Old handball court set to be torn down in Cape Girardeau

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Plans are now officially underway in Cape Girardeau to tear down an old Irish handball court.

The court may be 170-years-old, and currently sits next to the Southeast Missouri State University River Campus.

"I feel like sure enough in Cape we're blessed to be an old town to have as much history," said Tara Raddle of Cape Girardeau. "Therefore it's our responsibility to help preserve it for ourselves and future generations."

The old handball court is part of the old St. Vincent's college that was founded back in 1843.

"It's amazing, and we believe it's one of the oldest surviving handball courts in the U.S., and it may be the oldest in the U.S.," said Raddle.

If all goes as planned, it will soon face the wrecking ball.

"There are locations where you can stick your hand all the way through the wall, as the masonry is gone from the structure," said Tim Rowbottom-The Lawrence Group.

Southeast Missouri State University called for a structural evaluation on the handball court.

Tim Rowbottom with The Lawrence Group said the wall has a number of structural deficiencies.

"That includes deteriorating mortar, not simply the face mortar, but deep in the wall," said Rowbottom.

He said there are many cracks and holes.

"The wall is in such a shape that it can't be patch repaired, must be dismantled," said Rowbottom.

He says that would cost between $250,000 and $300,000.

Instead, coming soon the University plans to expand the school of visual and performing arts at the River Campus, and construct a new residence hall.

The Board of Regents made the decision final, and the handball court is coming down.

"Once we tear it down, we can't put it back up," said Tara Raddle.

The handball court is scheduled for removal in the next two months.

According to the group in charge of the structural evaluation, there may be an effort in the future to save some of the old structure and make an exhibit in one of the new buildings at the River Campus location.

Copyright 2013 KFVS. All rights reserved.