If you visit Cape Girardeau, Missouri for any length of time, you’ll surely come across something that stands out: the flood wall. It’s not just any wall – it tells a story through the Mississippi River Tales Mural. Part of that story, however, had been starting to show its age.
First appearing 10 years ago, the Mural is accompanied by several interpretation boards. These help guide the thousands of visitors each year through time and history as they move along the Mural. Unfortunately, these interpretation boards had succumb to the weather and elements and were in dire need of replacement. Enter the Missouri Humanities Council’s grants program.
Recently, our organization has been focusing its efforts not only on grant funds to humanities-centric organizations, but on heritage tourism as a means to both celebrate our communities and attract economic development. This model, when done effectively and collaboratively, is working already to revitalize and reestablish communities around their historical assets. Old Town Cape is a perfect example of a local institution already harnessing the power of this model of economic development to great effect. In fact, Old Town Cape was recently recognized as one of the best in the nation in this regard (click here to see a video commemorating their accomplishment). Thus, when they came to us in partnership with the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau with a match grant request of $2,500 to further their work in the area, we immediately knew our investment would be all the more significant.
It wasn’t too long ago that Cape Girardeau’s downtown stood as an eyesore of vacant, underutilized space. If you visit Cape Girardeau’s downtown today, you’ll be witness to a thriving part of town that has its pulse on the community. If you head on over to Water Street, you’ll also have a chance to learn about the rich history of the area and the role the River has had in shaping the historical, economic, and political landscape of our eastern region. The Missouri Humanities Council was glad to partner with a grant to help tell that story, but also to be part of the larger story of revitalization in downtown Cape Girardeau.