Kevin Killeen

Kirkwood, Mo–(KMOX)–The boarded-up and forgotten Goldenrod Showboat, a once-grand lady of the river,  may get a new dress and fresh lipstick and one more chance at glory.

Retired Kirkwood attorney Hugh McPheeters is leading a not-for-profit effort to purchase and restore the historic theater boat as a tourist attraction on the St. Louis riverfront.

Originally built in 1909, the Goldenrod was moored in the St. Louis area for generations.  Across its stage romped Bob Hope, Red Skelton and other stars on their way to greater things.  It was also believed to be the inspiration for the novel Showboat, which led to the musical of the same name.  (“Old Man River…”)

In the 1970s, the Goldenrod hosted the St. Louis Ragtime Festival with crowds lolling on the grassy hills beneath the Arch enjoying ragtime songs belted out by bands in striped shirts and straw hats on the upper deck.

The Goldenrod was last open to the public as an attraction in St. Charles in the early 1990s.

But the city of St. Charles, which then owned the boat, could not afford the continued upkeep.  It ended up moored on the Illinois River in Kampsville.

McPheeters says it would cost $70,000 to buy the boat, and another “two-to-three” million to fix it up right.  “I’m hoping we could get it done for a lot less with volunteer labor and contributed materials, ” McPheeters said, “I already have one offer from a flooring guy.”

To hear more of Hugh McPheeter’s plans, click here…


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