SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – Would you be willing to go into business with one of your siblings and go through all those financial and planning headaches with someone who knows all about it? has to know about you… and who blames you for that?
Well, that’s exactly what’s happening in a project involving a Springfield landmark that’s been abandoned for nearly half a century.
Located at the corner of the National Highway and the Chestnut Highway, 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 which was painted there in 1997.
It was once the Springfield Flour Company, then an MFA factory that closed in 1975, sending the structure into a dilapidated state, 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 find new life.
Not by a corporation or a large group of investors, but by two sisters.
“We don’t have people if that’s what you’re asking,” laughed Renee Textor when asked whether or not the project involved a group of investors. “We are the people.”
These people are Renee and her sister Sheri Perkins. The siblings (maiden name Payton) were born in Kentucky but grew up and spent most of their lives in North Springfield, where they came to know and love the ancient monument.
“We’ve walked past the factory our whole lives like everyone else and wondered about it,” Renee said. “It was as if 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 on with it. Plus, there’s the confidence that comes with aging. You trust your abilities and we know we can do it.
Like all sisters, Sheri and Renee admit they’ve had their ups and downs. But they always wanted to do an important project like this together.
“We fought like kids for sure,” Sheri said. “But we always supported each other. It was nice of us against the world growing up, and as adults, I don’t think we ever fought. Over the years we have done catering, event planning, weddings and other things. But it’s definitely the greatest thing we’ve ever done together. It has always been a dream.
“We always wanted to see ourselves succeed,” added Renee. “There is no competition with us or jealousy. We are a unit that works together and we know we can do it.
So far, their plans are to build a casual restaurant and retail space in a new building attached to the old mill. Due to its dilapidated state, they are still trying to figure out exactly what to do with the existing tall concrete structures.
“There could be potential for some kind of accommodation or another catering business,” Sheri said. “Who knows? We’re still working on that.
What to do with the mural also remains to be determined.
But the goal is to keep the iconic structures intact as much as possible.
“We feel like it’s going to be iconic and it’s going to be a destination,” Sheri explained. “Our name that we give 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 it can be a place that is warm and inviting. So in the future it will be known for that instead of what it is known for now, which is derelict and old.
Both bring something to the table.
While Renee has a background in accounting, Sheri shines with her creativity.
And as the older sister of two years, Sheri is the one to turn to when things go wrong.
“When we work together on a project, she breaks something, and I always say, ‘Don’t worry, I can fix that!'” Sheri said.
“I honestly think, it’s just kind of a curse with me,” Renee agreed. “Something always breaks. A customer brought us a cross and told us it was a gift from her son and her most prized possession. When I went to hang it up it broke. But she fixed it. And his famous last words to me are always…”
“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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