Visitors Guide to
Cape Girardeau County, Missouri


Jackson is a thriving community in the center of Cape Girardeau County. It was first thought that Cape Girardeau would be the county seat of Cape Girardeau County when the county was organized in 1812. But because of a legal question concerning the title to the land donated to the county after the Federal government rejected Louis Lorimiers’ Spanish land grants, commissioners chose not to build on the Cape Girardeau site. Instead they selected a county seat site in 1814 that was located on a broad low hill at an improved plantation that was served by a community post office, Jackson. 50 acres were purchased and a town was platted in 1815 and named for the post office, which honored Andrew Jackson, then a military hero of the War of 1812 who would later become the seventh President of the United States.

Jackson has been the site of four county courthouses. The first was a "barn-like" structure built in 1818 for $2,450. The second was two-story, brick and stone building with cupola that was built in 1837. This courthouse was destroyed by fire in 1870. E. D. Baldwin of St. Louis served as architect of the next courthouse. The building contract was awarded Joseph Lansmann. The cost came to $25,000. The county stipulated that designs for the third courthouse should not make use of wood for the floors or stairs. E. D. Baldwin of St. Louis served as architect of a two-story, brick and stone building with cupola was completed in 1872 (Figure 1). This building was south of the present courthouse and was razed to make way for the current courthouse. The current courthouse is an Italian Renaissance building completed in 1908. The county selected architect P. H. Weathers' design because it was fireproof and others were not. Weathers was a prolific courthouse architect in the Midwest.

Visitors can learn about Jackson’s history by visiting the Oliver House near the center of town. This 1847 Greek Revival home has been restored and is furnished with Victorian era furniture and other historical items. Just west of Jackson is Bohlinger Mill State Historic Site. Bollinger Mill State Historic Site is unusual in that it features both a workable mill and a covered bridge, side by side. The Burfordville Covered Bridge is the oldest of the four covered bridges still remaining in Missouri. The site offers exhibits, picnic sites, and hiking trails. East of Jackson is the Old McKendree Chapel, a national Methodist shrine, was the second meeting house constructed by the Methodists in Missouri and is regarded as the oldest Protestant church structure standing west of the Mississippi River.

Jackson is a progressive community of over 13,000 residents with well-maintained neighborhoods that are bordered by rolling hills, thick forests, and bucolic farmland, all of which gives way to the Mississippi River. Its park system has earned statewide recognition and is the pride of the town and the National Park Service has recognized Jackson's attractive uptown historic district. Its business community offers shops and places to stay that when combined make Jackson an excellent choice as a destination or a place to visit when traveling through the area.

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