Source: The Lewis And Clark Rediscovery Project & Sainte Genevieve Tourism  

 

 

Ste. Genevieve

The Jacob Philipson House is an example of the old French Colonial homes still standing in Ste. Genevieve. This home is operated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. It is a one-and-a-half story, side gable, limestone dwelling with a merchant store and family quarters.

 

The Amoureux House was built overlooking Le Grand Champ agricultural fields in 1792. It is a French Creole vernacular post in construction, one of three in Ste. Genevieve and only five in the United States. Its cedar log walls are set directly into the earth, without a foundation.

 

The Bolduc House was built in 1770 by Louis Bolduc, a Canadian lead miner, merchant, and planter. The house and its stockade fence exemplify the vertical log construction favored by the French in this region. After the great flood of 1783 the house was taken apart, and reassembled in its present location in 1784. The house is owned by the Missouri Society of the Colonial Dames of America.

About 20 miles up the river from Kaskaskia, where Lewis and Clark spent time in late November 1803, was Ste. Genevieve. President Jefferson mentioned in his instructions to Meriwether Lewis that the captain could stop there or Kaskaskia for assistance. Lewis chose Kaskaskia. However, William Clark and his men camped just below the town on their way to St. Louis.

It is generally accepted that Ste. Genevieve was the first permanent European settlement west of the Mississippi in the Illinois Country. The "Old Town" of Ste. Genevieve, as it was called, was located on the Mississippi floodplain on the Missouri side of the river three miles below the present site of Ste. Genevieve, about 60 miles south of St. Louis. When Clark passed by, there were about 1,000 residents, roughly the same population as St. Louis.

Ste. Genevieve was an offshoot of older French communities on the east bank of the Mississippi—Cahokia, Kaskaskia, Chartes, Prairie du Rocher, and St. Philippe. The first official documents pertaining to the citizens of Ste. Genevieve were recorded in Kaskaskia. Even before Ste. Genevieve maintained its own records, it existed as a distinct village.

French settlers started Ste. Genevieve after they had become established on the east bank of the Mississippi, used up much of the farmland there, and felt that the risk from hostile Indians had subsided somewhat. They named the town after the patron saint of their French homeland.

The town's economy relied on farming, livestock, salt springs, lead mines, and peltries. The rich soil, temperate climate, and broad expanses of alluvial bottomland made the region perfect for farming. The three main crops were wheat, corn, and tobacco. The people of New Orleans depended heavily on agricultural products from the Illinois Country.

Though the people of Ste. Genevieve were largely French-Canadian, there were many second or third generation Illinoisans, and this frontier community paid little attention to the class distinctions of highly structured European society. Not only were the prestigious families involved in agriculture, they also tackled trade, lead mining, and salt production. Slaves were used to care for the crops.

The standard residential lot in both the Old Town and today's New Town was square. In addition to the main house, the lots also contained a cow barn, a stable, a henhouse, a corncrib, an orchard, a vegetable garden, a bake oven, a well, and often slave's quarters. Occasionally, there would be a freestanding kitchen.

Picket fences were common in Ste. Genevieve. French-Canadian settlers in the Mississippi Valley did not fence in their grazing animals. Instead, they fenced the animals out.

People lived in picket lean-tos, barken shanties, rough log cabins, thatched-roof sheds, and the more familiar solid houses. Houses in the village were usually rectangular, vertical-log structures. The spaces between the logs were generally filled with saplings and noggin made of straw and clay, or stones and mortar. Whitewash was smeared over the exterior to seal the walls.

The people of Ste. Genevieve made great use of vegetables. They ate soups, fricassees, gumbos, bison, deer, squirrels, bears, ducks, geese, beef, pork, domestic fowl, fish, fruits, and breads.

The parish church was the focal point of the community for both religious and secular affairs. At the church door virtually all public auctions were cried and all notices posted.

Sometime between 1752-1755, Andre Deguire dit Larose (I-1340) was appointed captain of the militia at Ste. Genevieve. The militia of the town was quite small, but the formal organization of such a body indicates that the townspeople viewed their community as a permanent and viable affair.

Ste. Genevieve was and is solidly Roman Catholic.

The New Town, which was established a mile inland and 25 feet higher than the original Ste. Genevieve, remains a tourist attraction today. Many of the original homes are still preserved.

 

 

The Bequette - Ribault House

The Jean Baptiste Bequette House (historical name), Bequette-Ribault House was built over-looking the Le Grand Champ agricultural fields c1780s. This French creole vernacular post in the ground is number three of three in Ste. Genevieve and of only five in the US. Much of the fabric of the house is intact. It is a medium-sized (about 36 feet long) creole house with a central chimney. The original hipped roof with king-post trusses and the encircling gallery have been restored by the Wilhauk family. This house is located at 351 St. Mary Rd and is open occasionally to the public.

 

 

 

The Bolduc-Lemeillure House

The Rene LeMeillure House (historical name) was first built in 1820 of heavy-timber frame construction. Like the Bolduc House next door this house has been restored. Old photos show that this house was once a two-story, frame I-house. As restored, it is a single story, creole style house built by the grandson-in-law of Louis Bolduc. The walls are constructed according to American practices, that is, they consist of widely spaced, hand-hewn posts rather than creole vertical log construction. Lemeillure died shortly after the house was built and it passed to his mother-in-law, the widow of Louis Bolduc. It was eventually acquired by Jean Baptiste Valle who deeded it to the Sisters of Loretto in 1837. They occupied the building for many years. In the 1950s it was a used car lot. Located at the corner of Market and Main it is owned by the Colonial Dames and open to the public with the Bolduc House.

 

 

The Commandant's House

The Jean Baptiste Valle House (historical name) is a French creole vernacular vertical log construction. This house belonged to the last commandant of Ste. Genevieve and was a center for government activity durning the final days of Spanish rule before the French took back the territory and sold it to the Americans. Jean Baptiste Valle, its owner, came from colonial Ste. Geneveieve's leading family, which had prospered in mining and mercantile business. Remnants of an early garden served as a model for the present garden.

 

 

 

The Beauvais House

The Vital Ste. Gemme Beauvais House (historical name) Beauvais House was built out in the Le Grand Champ field and moved to its present location 1792. This French creole vernacular post in ground construction is number two of the three extant post in ground houses in Ste. Genevieve. The interior contains an early mantelpiece with exposed beam ceiling. Located at 104 S. Main

 

The La Maison de Guibourd-Vallé

Jacques Jean René Guibourd moved to Ste. Genevieve in 1799 and immediately began to aquire land for farming in the area. The Spanish Commandant Francois Vallé granted to Guibourd in June of 1799 a Spanish Land Grant to the square block upon which he would later build his residence at 4th and Merchant. Jacques moved into the completed home in 1807. The Guibourd House is of poteaux-sur-sol (post-on-a-sill) vertical log construction. Visitors may enter the attic to view the original framing and the great Norman truss. The Guibourd-Vallé House, gardens and furnishings were given to the Foundation for Restoration of Ste. Genevieve and is open to the public as a tour house with a charming gift shop.

 

 

 

 

The Felix Valle State Historic Site

The Jacob Philipson House (historic name) is a one and one-half story, side gable, limestone dwelling with a merchant store and family quarters. This facility gave Philipson an opportunity to establish a business in the town trading manufactured goods for the fur pelts and lead ore obtained in the Missouri territory. Philipson sold the house in 1824 to the son of Francois Valle, Jean Baptiste Valle. Felix Valle, the fourth son of Jean Baptiste became the owner in 1835. The house, located at the corner of Merchant and Second Street is open to the public all year and is operated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

 

 

The Greentree Tavern

The Nicholas Janis/ Janis-Zigler House (historic name) is a fine example of a French Colonial vertical log home on stone foundation. A typical French Colonial gallery extends along three sides of the house. The gallery has red cedar hand hewn post. Secondary rafters extends over the gallery giving the characteristic double pitch to the roof. It is belived that the first Masonic Lodge west of the Mississippi resided in the building around 1809. Located at 241 St. Mary's road

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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