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Mississippi Valley Research Project

David V. Kromm, AIA

President
Kromm, Rikimaru and Johansen, Inc.

Jerry Walters

Professor, Department of Fine Arts
Mineral Area College

Dr. David Browman

Professor, Department of Anthropology
Washington University

The Mineral Area College, directed by Dr. Kohn, is sponsoring this program in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council and with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the State of Missouri.

Objectives

  • To study the wealth of history, through architecture, found in the Mineral Area of Missouri and the "River Heritage" area along the Mississippi.
  • To discover answers to the questions of why and how these cultures defined and represented themselves.
  • To share this information with the communities in order to educate them about the rich history and culture the buildings represent.
  • To use this information to assist in keeping the community, and its heritage strong and vibrant.

Introduction

This study examines the Mineral Area historic building landscape through an architect's eyes.

Preface

When this project began it was expected that there would be a simple and homogeneous track of old world architecture for the Mississippi Valley. Instead, it was found that there is a variety of heritage from Italy to Ireland and France to Poland.

Unlike other areas of the country, early builders did not have books out of which to copy. The availability of materials and resources were limited to what could be hauled on barges or horseback. Stonework appeared in towns that developed later as railroads came to the Mississippi Valley. Crafted work, however, such as Italianate windows, always had to be prefabricated and imported. Therefore, crafted work was used sparingly.

Construction labor was often voluntary, especially for major community buildings such as churches and courthouses. Builders put their hearts and souls into the construction of these buildings, and they had to. Lacking materials and books, they built from limited drawings and what they carried in with them in their minds. These limitations forced them to improvise.

This improvisation occurred in many ways. The forms that resulted have their own intrinsic beauty and are responsive to the materials and methods that shaped them. The builders created a sort of new art form, a form of Jazz in architecture.

Notes

  • At the end of every site entry is a date preceded with P.O. The dates mark the point at which the community had an official post office, and the date at which the post office, in some cases, was terminated. These dates are an indication for when the individual communities thrived as a growing important locus. Construction dates of churches also mark prosperous times for small towns. They provide a way to get a feel for the context against which to access construction.
  • The location of each site is marked on city maps throughout by red dots. A few of these are approximate locations and are duly marked with asterisk.

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