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Old Town Cape project chosen for $150,000 funding competition

Old Town Cape, Inc. has the chance to acquire up to $150,000 in private grant funding through Partners in Preservation’s Main Streets campaign.

Partners in Preservation, which is a partnership between the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express, selected 25 Main Street districts including Cape Girardeau to participate in a voting contest.

If Cape Girardeau is one of the top 10 vote-collecting communities, Old Town Cape will receive full funding to preserve Ivers Square, the site formally known as Common Pleas Courthouse Park.

The square was renamed in June in honor of James Ivers and his family. Ivers was a former slave who enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War at the Common Pleas Courthouse.

Parker Butler, the resource development specialist for Old Town Cape, said they hope to revitalize the historic public property that has fallen into disrepair and be able to add signs that denote the new name of the square.

“What we think is central to the project is setting up signage to honor James Ivers and his family and incorporate the namesake into the park,” Butler said.

Other aspects of the project would be to enhance the landscaping, add seating, complete revitalization work to the fountain and restore the roof of the gazebo to reflect how it looked 100 years ago when it was built as a bandstand.

“We’re up against the likes of San Francisco, Salt Lake City and Washington D.C., but we believe we have the capacity to engage our community better than they can,” Butler said.

To support the project, the public can visit daily from now to Oct. 31.

Individuals can vote five times per day after registering via their email. Those who vote can also enter a sweepstakes to win a trip to New York, Los Angeles or Miami from National Geographic.

Old Town Cape will host an open house at 6 p.m. on Oct. 6 at Ivers Square Park, to provide information about the proposed project and highlight the importance of main street preservation efforts in downtown Cape Girardeau.

The open house will also include a performance by Jerry Ford’s Dixieland Band, a group dance ensemble from Lauren Jones Maurer and refreshments courtesy of Primo Brands.

Old Town Cape also has material available for businesses and individual “ambassadors” to show their support for the campaign.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past five years. He can be reached at

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