Kemper Military School has been a historic landmark in Boonville since just five years after the town itself was created.
It was shut down in 2002 due to lack of money, but since then, Boonville city leaders have been trying to bring the buildings back in working order.
“We’re working building by building,” Jim Gann, economic development director of Boonville said.
One of the 11 campus buildings has been turned into a community college campus satellite building. And leaders are working on turning a second building into more classrooms for the college.
But one of the notable buildings on campus – the administration building – may have to be torn down after engineers found it was structurally unsafe.
“Economically what’s best is to go with the engineers report that says it’s not economically viable to save the structure,” Gann said.
The Alumni Association of Kemper has asked city leaders to give them time to get the money needed to make necessary repairs.
But Gann said repairs will likely cost around $30 million.
“If there’s enough sentimental support, I think it can still happen because the bulldozers aren’t there yet,” he said.
If the association is able to get the money, leaders have thought of a new way to use the building again.
“There would be a small office space above to incubate IT companies and small businesses. On the main floor, we’d move the library in and put a comput lab and coffee shop,” Gann said. “It would merge the historic and future together.”
On the other hand, it would cost millions to tear down the building as well because the asbestos and mold inside have to be mitigated first.
Engineers considered the other buildings on campus safe.
Notable alumni of Kemper include actor Will Rodger, Donald Tyson of Tyson’s Food, and many U.S. Congressmen, Senators and Generals.