CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) – Plans are now officially underway in Cape Girardeau to demolish a former Irish handball court.
The court may be 170 years old–former, and currently sits adjacent to the River Campus of Southeast Missouri State University.
“I think in Cape Girardeau, we’re pretty sure we’re an old town to have so much history,” said Tara Raddle of Cape Girardeau. “Therefore, it is our responsibility to help preserve it for ourselves and future generations.”
The old handball court is part of the former Saint-Vincent college founded in 1843.
“It’s amazing, and we think it’s one of the oldest surviving handball courts in the United States, and it may be the oldest in the United States,” Raddle said.
If all goes as planned, he will soon face the wrecking ball.
“There are places where you can put your hand through the wall because the masonry has disappeared from the structure,” said Tim Rowbottom-The Lawrence Group.
Southeast Missouri State University called for a structural assessment of the handball court.
Tim Rowbottom of the Lawrence Group said the wall had a number of structural flaws.
“That includes deterioration of the mortar, not just the face mortar, but deep within the wall,” Rowbottom said.
He said there were a lot of cracks and holes.
“The wall is in such a shape that it can’t be fixed, it has to be taken down,” Rowbottom said.
He says it would cost between $250,000 and $300,000.
Instead, the University soon plans to expand the School of Visual and Performing Arts at the River Campus and build a new residence hall.
The Board of Regents have made the final decision and the handball pitch is going downhill.
“Once we take it down, we can’t put it back together,” Tara Raddle said.
The handball court should be removed within the next two months.
According to the structural assessment group, there may be an effort in the future to salvage part of the old structure and make an exhibit in one of the new buildings at the River Campus.
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