Efforts underway to save the Kerasotes Broadway Theatre
CAPE GIRARDEAU (KBSI) – Once a beacon of downtown Cape Girardeau, the Kerasotes Broadway Theatre has fallen into disrepair.
“It really was the heart of a lot of community activity for a long time, and just a real connection to who we are as a community and experiences that we had together,” said Steven Hoffman, Ph.D., professor of history and anthropology at Southeast Missouri State.
Last year, Suzanne Hightower started a non-profit organization called Cape Broadway Theatre in an effort to save the building.
“Restoring a historical theater in towns is just extremely beneficial, and of course it’s the biggest recycling project you can do,” she said.
In 2021, a fire swept through the front of the theater, causing damage to a structure that had sat largely unused for more than two decades.
Hightower said the rest of the building is in relatively good shape.
“I love historical buildings, I love architecture. I’d hate to see one of the gems of Cape Girardeau get demolished when most of it is in really good shape except the very front of the building,” she said.
Hoffman said restoring a place like the Broadway Theatre will attract people to the area, which will have reciprocal effects.
“We need to be a place that people want to be,” he said. “It’s this kind of ‘place-based economic development.’ The kinds of people that we want to attract and retain in Cape Girardeau, they want to live in a place that has a venue like the Broadway Theatre.”
The Broadway Theatre holds memories of the past, but it can also set the standard for the future.
“The reason why we need to save it and not just record those memories is because it has the potential to be a touchstone for the future as well.”
The Cape Broadway Theatre non-profit has applied for grants to acquire the funds necessary for the renovation project. The first step would be to repair the part of the building impacted by the fire.