Take a look at the path of the May 22 tornado through Jefferson City, Missouri and two rather prominent institutions stand out: Capital Region Medical Center and Jefferson City High School. Between them are roughly three blocks, bounded by Madison Street on one side and Jackson Street on the other, with Oak and Adams streets running parallel between them. The tornado did not touch the hospital and did only minor damage to the high school’s athletic field press box.
It whacked the homes in between with eye-of-the-needle precision.
The thing that has always fascinated me about this neighborhood is that running up the middle of these predominately lower-middle class homes are, on Adams Street, a string of gorgeous, stately houses that could have been plucked from St. Louis’ Forest Park; truly stunning early-20th Century gems clearly built for the city’s upper crust. They got whacked too. Perhaps not as badly as many of the smaller, more fragile homes, some of which were rendered total ruins, but they got whacked, nonetheless. This English Tutor style has always been a favorite of mine. There is a color version of this photograph that looks like a post card – blue sky with puffy clouds and perfect lighting all in a soft, gentle focus. It’s just that the roof has been torn up and the bay window ripped off, and probably other things I’m not aware of.
Every city has those neighborhoods developed decades, even a century before, that seem to defy expectations. How did it come to be this way? How did it get here? What was the idea behind this? What happened? I wish I knew more about this neighborhood – how it came to be, who lived here, and why its economics ran askew. But I don’t. And, clearly, nature didn’t care one way or the other. Rich or poor irrelevant.
NOTE: Fifteen of these works depicting Jefferson City, Missouri’s May 22 tornado damage have been compiled into an artbook, which may be viewed and purchased at Capital Arts in Jefferson City, or purchased on this website in either 10-inch paperback or signed 12-inch hardcover.
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.