The Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation (Missouri Preservation) announced its 2017 list of historic Places in Peril on Friday evening, August 25, 2017 at a special “Unhappy Hour” event at the National Building Arts Center, which is located in Sauget Illinois just across the Mississippi River from downtown St. Louis. Seven new endangered historic places were named to the list for 2017 and six were carried over from the previous year, including the Emmaus Homes located in Marthasville, Missouri. Missouri Preservation is a statewide non-profit organization that has at its core a mission to advocate for, educate about and assist in the preservation of architectural and historic landmarks that embody Missouri’s unique heritage and sense of place. Its chief advocacy program is its “Places in Peril”. Begun as a media campaign in 2000 as “Missouri’s Most Endangered Historic Places,” the program calls attention to endangered historic resources statewide that are threatened by deterioration, lack of maintenance, insufficient funds, imminent demolition and/or inappropriate development. The program was renamed “Places in Peril” in 2015. Once a historic resource is gone, it’s gone forever. By publicizing these places the organization hopes to build support toward the eventual preservation of each property named.
While it is acknowledged that not every historic resource named here can be rescued, the efficacy of the Places in Peril Program will be proven in the many instances where by advocating publicly for its preservation, and planning for its continued contribution to Missouri’s built environment, many an imperiled property will indeed find rehabilitation and ongoing preservation, contributing to the education and enjoyment of future generations of Missourians.
The Emmaus Home Complex in Marthasville
The Emmaus Home Complex in Marthasville began as a seminary for the German Evangelical Church in Missouri. A campus of five buildings was completed here by 1859. Four of these remain in various states of repair, those being the Farm House, Bake Oven, Friedensbote (Messenger of Peace) Publishing House, and the Dormitory. The College Building itself was lost to a fire in 1930. The seminary was in operation at this site until 1883, when it moved to St. Louis and eventually became Eden Seminary.
In 1893 the campus in Marthasville became known the Emmaus Asylum for Epileptics
and Feeble Minded. The campus grew to a total of eight substantial buildings including
a chapel, by 1928. In more recent years the religious denomination became the United
Church of Christ and the two campuses the church body owned – this one in Warren
County for men, and the other in St. Charles County for women – became known simply
as the Emmaus Homes. This is an important historic site, having been constructed by
some of the tens of thousands of Germans who emigrated here beginning in the 1830s.
In the area the first Evangelical church west of the Mississippi was constructed, and this
marked the beginning of the Synod of the west, known as Der Deutsche Evangelisch
Kirchenverein des Westens. The buildings in the complex are unique in that they are of
sturdy limestone construction in varying German styles by German immigrants. They
are representative of the tenacity of some of Missouri’s earliest Germans, and are
unique in that most are original with very few modifications over the years. Through the
years the approach toward caring for the handicapped and developmentally disabled
has also changed, and care for the residents at Emmaus has shifted from large
institutional settings to smaller group homes. Emmaus has indicated that they wish to
transition all clients away from Marthasville by 2020. It is hoped that by listing this
campus on the list of Missouri’s Places in Peril that when it comes time to dispose of the
campus, that Emmaus Homes will seek to find a reuse for this campus that will preserve
the historic buildings located here.
- For More Information: Missouri Preservation, 319 N. 4th Street, Suite 850, St. Louis, Missouri 63102, Executive Director, Bill Hart, (314)691-1941, Administrator, Riley Price (660)882-5946 Photo and article from Missouri Preservation.