- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—A state preservation group listed a South Side landmark among its 15 Places in Peril for 2015.

Missouri Preservation unveiled the list, which included St. Joseph’s Livestock Exchange Building.

Bill Hart, executive director for the group, said it was the first time the Livestock Exchange Building has been featured on the list. He said buildings are nominated by citizens first, then a committee reviews and ranks the nominees before coming to a final decision.

“It’s not us telling (others) what’s important, it’s them telling us what’s important to them,” he said.

Mr. Hart said the purpose of the list is to bring attention to buildings and encourage action on them. He said the Livestock Exchange Building stands out among other nominees because of its importance to the city.

“It would sure be a shame to lose an iconic building not only because of the economic and sort of commercial history it represents, it’s also an Edmond Eckel building,” he said, referring to the architect. ” … It’s an important architectural legacy as well as a great economic and commercial history that the Livestock Exchange represents, and boy, it’s in a really sad state of repair.”

Lisa Rock, a Landmark Commission member and real estate agent for historic properties, said she was glad for the exposure that the list can bring.

“I am so grateful that they acknowledged how important that it is,” she said. “We’ve got such treasures here and even though they’re dilapidated, they still have great value and they can be tax bases back in our city again.”

She said St. Joseph’s history is incredible and citizens should work toward saving it and capitalizing on it.

“We can make money off of it,” she said. “We don’t have to invent it, we don’t have to make it up. All we’ve got to do is just capitalize on it.”

The Livestock Exchange was not the only St. Joseph property to be singled out. The Frank L. Sommer Home, located at 914 Main St., made its third appearance in the last three years. In 2012, the home, which is also known as the Cracker House, was on the group’s Most Endangered list, as it was formerly known.

From 2013 to the present year, the group placed the home on its Watched Properties list. Mr. Hart said that designation is a slightly lowered priority from the Places in Peril list. He said the reasoning for that status this year was that the new leadership of the nonprofit group The Cracker House Project has been an active player in trying to restore the building.

Mr. Hart said he knows there are disagreements over the building and its worthiness as a restoration project.

“Whether people appreciate it or not, it’s a nice-looking, run-down building in a not very nice part of town,” Mr. Hart said. He added that the home’s ties to the National Biscuit Co., later, Nabisco, are significant.

“It’s an important part of St. Joe’s history and obviously more than one person in St. Joe believes that too or they wouldn’t have nominated it for Places in Peril,” he said.

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(c)2015 the St. Joseph News-Press (St. Joseph, Mo.)

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