Sister Act: Siblings aim to turn abandoned Springfield landmark into restaurant, retail space
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Would you be willing to go into business with one of your siblings and take up all those financial and planning headaches with someone who knows everything there is to know about you...and picks on you for it?
Well, that’s exactly what’s happening in a project involving a Springfield landmark that’s been abandoned for almost half a century.
Located at the corner of National and Chestnut Expressway, a 13-story mill has stood like a silent sentinel over the city since 1896. It is now best known for a giant mural on the grain elevator depicting the birth of Jesus that was painted there in 1997.
It was once the Springfield Flour Company, then an MFA mill that went out of business in 1975, sending the structure into a state of disrepair, littered with graffiti and trash from homeless camps.
But now, after 47 years as a towering ghost, the old silo and mill are about to be given a new life.
Not by a corporation or large group of investors but by two sisters.
“We don’t have people if that’s what you’re asking,” replied a laughing Renee Textor when queried about whether or not the project involved an investing group. “We are the people.”
Those people are Renee and her sister Sheri Perkins. The siblings (maiden name Payton) were born in Kentucky but raised and spent most of their lives in north Springfield, where they came to know and love the old landmark.
“We’ve driven by the mill our whole lives just like everybody else and wondered about it,” Renee said. “It just felt like this space was waiting for us. And you get to an age where you realize you don’t have a ton of years left, so you feel like if you want to do something, you better get to it. Plus, there’s confidence that comes with aging. You trust your abilities, and we know we can do this.”
Like any sisters, Sheri and Renee admit they’ve had their ups and downs. But they have always wanted to do a significant project like this together.
“We fought as kids for sure,” Sheri said. “But we have always had each other’s backs. It was kind of us against the world growing up, and as adults, I don’t think we’ve ever fought. Through the years, we’ve done some catering, event planning, weddings, and other things. But this is definitely the biggest thing we’ve ever done together. It’s always been a dream.”
“We’ve always wanted to see each other succeed,” Renee added. “There’s not a competitiveness with us or jealousy. We are a unit working together, and we know we can do it.”
So far, their plans are to build a casual dining restaurant and retail shopping space in a new building attached to the old mill. Because of its state of disrepair, they’re still trying to figure out exactly what to do with the existing tall concrete structures.
“There could be a potential for some kind of lodging or some other restaurant endeavor,” Sheri said. “Who knows? We’re still working on that.”
What to do with the mural is still to be determined as well.
But the goal is to keep the iconic structures intact as much as possible.
“We do feel like it’s going to be iconic, and it’s going to be a destination,” Sheri explained. “Our name that we’re kicking around is ‘The Table,’ and if you think about the things that happen in your life around a table, like celebrations and heart-to-heart talks, I just hope this can be a place that’s warm and inviting. So in the future, it will be known for that instead of what it’s known for now, which is abandoned and old.”
The two both bring something to the table.
While Renee has an accounting background, Sheri shines in being creative.
And as the older sister by two years, Sheri is the one to turn to when things go wrong.
“When we’re working together on a project, she’ll break something, and I’ll always say, ‘Don’t worry, I can fix that!’” Sheri said.
“I think honestly, it’s just a kind of curse with me,” Renee agreed. “Something always breaks. One client brought us a cross and told us it was a gift from her son and her most precious possession. When I went to hang it up, it broke. But she fixed it. And her famous last words to me always are....”
“I’ll fix it!” they both say in unison.
It’s always nice to have someone like that around.
The sisters hope to have the restaurant part of the operation ready by next fall.
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