Cape Girardeau's Ivers Square wins grant money

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Cape Girardeau's Ivers Square was chosen by the public as a winner for preservation funding.

Partners in Preservation: Main Streets announced the winners on Thursday, November 2. Ivers Square and Old Town Cape, Inc. will receive $127,650 in funding from American Express.

Cape Girardeau was one of 11 winning sites, determined by popular vote, to receive a grant to fund its respective preservation project. More than 900,000 votes were cast as part of the campaign, which celebrated historic commercial corridors across the U.S.

"The big thing that I really want to stress is how grateful we are for the community for coming out and voting for this campaign," said Parker Butler, a project manager at Old Town Cape. "We truly could not have done it without all the people in Cape Girardeau that have really rallied behind this."

Old Town Cape Inc. will use the grant money to revitalize the recently named Ivers Square, which is on the grounds of the historic Cape Girardeau Common Pleas Courthouse. One of the major places of the renovation will be the gazebo where tunes at twilight and other events are held throughout the year. The majority of the funding will be used to put a roof making the gazebo more historically accurate.

Many people know this site as Common Pleas Courthouse Park. On June 5, the city council officially named the park beside the Common Pleas Courthouse "Ivers Square" in honor of James Ivers and the Ivers family.

Old Town Cape said in a press release that James Ivers, a former slave, received his freedom and went on to enlist in the Union Army on June 18, 1863.

They said the plan for the property includes signage to denote the park as Ivers Square, but also includes major improvements to the gazebo, fountain, landscaping and seating.

Among other projects on the grounds, the project will include restoring the band stand, which was originally built in 1931 for concerts and served as a stage for politicians like Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. The property is currently used for a 12-week concert series, as well as for events such as weddings and picnics.

The park setting was recently named after an African-American Civil War soldier and former slave who joined the military on the steps of the Courthouse.

Other winners of the grant money include:

  • Parker Hall and the John Trower Building in Philadelphia, PA
  • Vintage Neon Sign Park in Casa Grande, AZ
  • Formosa Cafe in Los Angeles, CA
  • The Lyric Theater in Greensboro, NC
  • E. Romero Hose and Fire Building in Las Vegas, NM
  • The Alabama Theatre in Cincinnati, OH
  • McKinney Performing Arts Center in McKinney, TX
  • Utah Pickle Company and Hide Buildings in Salt Lake City, UT

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