Preservation group releases 2019 list of Missouri’s most endangered historic places

Carter County Courthouse

(Editor’s note: This is the first in a three-part series.)

Missouri Preservation has announced its 2019 Places in Peril list which includes many places in Traveler country.

Places in Peril is an annual list of endangered historic places in the state of Missouri. These places are nominated by concerned individuals and decided upon by a committee of preservation advocates. 

Missouri Preservation advocates for, educates about, and assists in the preservation of architectural and historic landmarks that embody Missouri’s unique heritage and sense of place.

Carter County Courthouse,
Van Buren, Mo.

The Carter County Courthouse, located in Van Buren, Mo., began as a post-and-beam building which was completed in October 1871. 

In 1936, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) funded a substantial addition to the east end of the building and added a cobblestone cladding to the entire structure, both old and new. 

Shortly after, a wall was built to enclose the square. This remains the only existing cobblestone courthouse in the state of Missouri. The courthouse served the community from 1871 until 2017 when it was damaged by unprecedented flooding of the nearby Current River. 

Although the building is empty, the Carter County Courthouse still remains the center of the community where locals gather for Christmas tree lightings, Easter egg hunts and the annual Festival of Lights. 

However, the building is still in imminent danger of deterioration. Aside from interior wall coverings being removed on the first floor to promote drying, no work has been done since the flooding in May 2017. 

Damaged doors and windows have made it difficult to keep out animals and pests. When the county government vacated the building permanently, it pledged to maintain the building but no plans for its future use or renovation have been articulated. 

In 2019 the county approved the creation of the Courthouse Renovation Committee, a citizens group with a goal of creating a non-profit which will partner with the county to oversee the plans for renovation and reuse. 

While support for retaining the courthouse is unanimous amongst the community, the nominator hopes being listed on Missouri’s Places in Peril will serve as an objective validation of the structure’s significance and elicit support from those willing to offer professional or financial assistance to the renovation efforts.


Springfield (vicinity), Mo. (Greene County)

The former village of Galloway and the neighboring Sequiota Park have a rich history thanks to their location along the highway 60/65 corridor, the Frisco-Chadwick Flyer rail line, and as the site of the Ash Grove White Lime Works. 

Galloway was a company town, its livelihood largely dependent on the quarry and kiln, and as families followed the expanding business operations the village grew to accommodate them. 

In 1969, Galloway was annexed by the City of Springfield. When the highway was relocated, businesses in the town dwindled. Although Galloway is fortunate enough to have a handful of historic structures, increasing development threatens what remains. 

By being listed on the 2019 Places in Peril list, concerned citizens hope the local city council will support redevelopment plans and policies which promote preservation and respect the historic integrity of the area. 

Several of the historic properties are currently for sale and it is hoped they will be purchased by a buyer interested in preserving their history and place in the community.


Holloway House,
Rolla, Mo. (Phelps County)

The Holloway House in Rolla, Mo., was once part of a 250-acre cattle farm owned and operated by Col. George Holloway. An entrepreneur, philanthropist and real estate magnate, Holloway would shape the growth of Rolla while he resided at this house.

Constructed circa 1900 for Benjamin Knapp, the house and property were purchased by Holloway in 1902. Holloway expanded the farming operation and christened it the Elm Row Stock Farm. 

By 1907, Holloway sold the ranch but reserved the eastern 40 acres below the house and subdivided the land into house lots. The new subdivision become known as Holloway Addition and was one of the finest neighborhoods in Rolla. 

Today the Holloway House is the centerpiece of the 100-acre Ber Juan Park, named in honor of former Holloway House owners, Bert and Juanita Williams. The house is currently endangered as the city wants to demolish the home to make way for a senior center. 

The City of Rolla has based its decision to demolish on a 20-year-old feasibility study for the house. Opponents say demolition and new construction would cost much more than rehabilitating the property or finding an equally sized one-story building to convert into a senior center.

Unless there is a feasibility study or hard facts to support this statement, it should not be used unless qualified as opinion, opponents say.

The Rolla Preservation Alliance recently posted a poll in which 70 percent of the 421 voters who participated responded in favor of keeping the house. 

It is hoped that this Places in Peril listing will make the City of Rolla aware of other preservation and adaptive reuse efforts across the state so city government could apply similar preservation principles to the Holloway House.
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Shanley Building,
Clayton, Mo. (St. Louis County)

The Shanley Building, built in 1935, was the first International Style building in St. Louis and the central Midwest. 

Commissioned by orthodontist Leo M. Shanley and designed by St. Louis architect Harris Armstrong, the Shanley building received wide recognition within the first few years, including a silver medal at the Exposition International des Artes et des Techniques in Paris in 1937. 

It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. After 80 years, the Shanley Building is at risk due to the proposed development of a condominium tower and high-rise hotel. 

The nominators hope that listing the Shanley Building on the Places in Peril list will encourage the owners and developers to preserve the building and incorporate it into their design plans for the site.


Emmaus Homes,
Marthasville, Mo. (Warren County)

The Emmaus Home Complex in Marthasville began as a seminary for the German Evangelical Church in Missouri. A campus of five buildings was completed here by 1859. 

Four of these remain in various states of repair, those being the Farm House, Bake Oven, Friedensbote (Messenger of Peace) Publishing House, and the Dormitory. The College Building itself was lost to a fire in 1930. 

The seminary was in operation at this site until 1883, when it moved to St. Louis and eventually became Eden Seminary. In 1893 the campus in Marthasville became known the Emmaus Asylum for Epileptics and Feeble Minded. The campus grew to a total of eight substantial buildings, including a chapel, by 1928. 

In more recent years the religious denomination became the United Church of Christ and the two campuses the church body owned – this one in Warren County for men, and the other in St. Charles County for women – became known simply as the Emmaus Homes. 

This is an important historic site, having been constructed by some of the tens of thousands of Germans who emigrated here beginning in the 1830s. 

In the area the first Evangelical church west of the Mississippi was constructed, and this marked the beginning of the Synod of the west, known as Der Deutsche Evangelisch Kirchenverein des Westens.  

The buildings in the complex are unique in that they are of sturdy limestone construction in varying German styles by German immigrants. They are representative of the tenacity of some of Missouri’s earliest Germans, and are unique in that most are original with very few modifications over the years. 

Through the years the approach toward caring for the handicapped and developmentally disabled has also changed, and care for the residents at Emmaus has shifted from large institutional settings to smaller group homes. 

Emmaus has listed the campus for sale and it is hoped that listing on the Places in Peril will bring it to the attention of a preservation-minded developer.


In addition to the published list of Places in Peril, Missouri Preservation has a “Watched Properties” list for places that have garnered attention but are still not out of the woods.


• The Barbagallo House, Kimmswick, Mo. (Jefferson County)

• The Burlington Northern Depot, Bethany, Mo. (Harrison County)

• Kansas City Board of Education & Library Building, Kansas City, Mo. (Jackson County)

• Old Nevada Post Office Building, Nevada, Mo. (Vernon County)

• Rte. 66 Gasconade River Bridge, Hazelgreen (vicinity), Mo. (Laclede County)

• Starke-Meinershagen-Boeke Rural Historic District, Marthasville (vicinity), Mo. (Warren County)

• Vitt’s Mill, Union, Mo. (Franklin County)

• Historic Resources at Missouri State Parks, Statewide

• Former Lincoln School, Jackson, Mo. (Cape Girardeau County)

• Henry Miller House, Bloomfield, Mo. (Stoddard County)

• The Russell Hotel, Charleston, Mo. (Mississippi County)

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