History

Mary Ann and Bert Kellerman have been committed to historic preservation and art since 1971. I met the Kellermans a few years ago when they assisted in the production of the locally produced film Interviewing Monsters set for release Sept, 2018. They were also involved in the recent 573 International Film Festival. Their support and donations made both events great successes. They are gracious hosts and entertaining conversationalists.

Both Mary Ann and Bert were professors at Southeast Missouri State University. Dr. Mary Ann Kellerman developed the Interior Design Program at Southeast Missouri State University and taught the program for twenty-six years. She has worked professionally as an interior designer since 1974 and has always been interested in antiques and art. Dr. Bert Kellerman was in the College of Business and served as Chair of the Marketing Department from its inception in 1976 to 1990. In 1992, he became the Associate Dean in the Harrison College of Business..

After successful careers in higher education, Mary Ann, and Bert Kellerman, at the urging of neighbors, friends, and colleagues, created the Kellerman Foundation for Historic Preservation. This effort is creating a legacy of historic preservation for Southeast Missouri.The Kellermans have restored both commercial and residential structures in the area. They have received local and state awards for their preservation efforts. Also, Mary Ann Kellerman was a member of the committee that developed the Historic Preservation Degree Program at Southeast Missouri State University. Most recently, the Kellermans restored the Oliver-Leming House which was the residence of Marie Watkins-Oliver, who designed and created the Missouri State Flag.

Bert and Mary Ann were the 2014 winners of the McReynolds Award for Historic Preservation in recognition of their work on the preservation of the Oliver-Leming House in Cape Girardeau and the establishment of the Foundation.

Let’s visit Mary Ann and Bert at their latest historical effort – Heritage Hall.

We purchased the 1925 bank building (Colonial Federal Savings and Loan) from Robert and Joanne Erlbacher and Cordell and Ann Dombrowski on Dec. 31, 2015, to open a local museum. A naming competition was held, and the winning name was “Heritage Hall,” which was submitted by Dr. Roseanne Whitlow-Greenwood. Heritage Hall is located at 102 North Main St., Cape Girardeau, MO.

The exhibit currently on display at Heritage Hall shares the legacy of Don and Rubye Kraft. Through memorabilia and artifacts acquired from their family and friends, one can see a glimpse into their service to this country, work history, extensive travels and love of animals.



After learning of the Kraft’s dedication and donations to The Humane Society of Southeast Missouri, we had the inspiration to combine their love of animals with Victorian jewelry that Mary Ann purchased from the Kraft estate. We invited four local photographers to donate their time and expertise to create this visual experience of pets wearing the Victorian jewelry. Some of the pets photographed were rescues and were available for adoption from the Humane Society. The result is a beautiful display of thirty-two art portraits that show a whimsical melding of pets and precious jewels. These photographs are on display as a part of the Kraft Exhibit.

The display has great emotional value to both Bert and me. We became acquainted with the Krafts in the 1990’s and became friends. And more than that, the exhibit offers a unique opportunity for us to continue the Krafts tradition of giving to the Humane Society. Proceeds received through sponsorships from local businesses and individuals, as well as sales of the portraits, prints, calendars and note cards will be shared equally between the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri and The Kellerman Foundation.

It takes a lot of help to run Heritage Hall. Our most valued and skilled historian we have is Dr. Frank Nickell. His knowledge of local history is just incredible. He joined us full-time in 2016. Dr. Nickell was born and raised on a farm in central Illinois, graduated from Eastern Illinois University, and received his Ph. D in American History from the University of New Mexico. He was the associate director of the State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center in Cape Girardeau and an emeritus faculty member of the Department of History at Southeast Missouri State University. He has received numerous teaching and service awards, including the Missouri Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, Missouri Humanities Council Acorn Award for outstanding service, the Jonas Viles Award from the Missouri State Archives for significant contributions to the preservation of Missouri’s heritage, and in 2005, was designated as an “outstanding Missourian” by the Missouri House of Representatives. In 2010 he was the recipient of the Southeast Missouri University “Pride Award” and recently the State Historical Society of Missouri’s “Outstanding Service Award.” As the former director of the Center for Regional history at Southeast, Dr. Nickell edited and published approximately twenty-five books about the history of Missouri and Southeast Missouri. He was one of the three founders of the Missouri History Day program, and a member of the Board of Directors of the National History Day program for three years. Dr. Nickell was also the founder and long-time president of the Humane Society of Southeast Missouri.

Please come and visit Heritage Hall. We are open to the public Thursday through Saturday, 12 PM to 5 PM. We have extended hours on the first Friday of each month from 5 PM to 9 PM when we participate in the Art Council of Southeast Missouri’s, First Friday event. We are also open to the public when we host the opening receptions of new exhibits. In addition, Heritage Hall is also available by special request for private groups. Evening meetings can also be arranged.

Our next exhibit is “M. Charles Rhinehart: A Retrospective of Eight Decades of Painting”. Heritage Hall has been given permission to tell the story of M. Charles Rhinehart. He and his wife Lavetta have recently moved back to Missouri and have opened a gallery in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. The coming exhibit will show paintings from 1949 to 2018. It will include works from Mr. Rhinehart’s current inventory as well as many items “on loan” from collectors around the country. The opening reception is planned for September 15, 2018.

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