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Ste. Genevieve’s newest historical education facility now has an announced opening date after years of planning and preparation.

The Centre for French Colonial Life, operated by New France: The Other Colonial America, will open the weekend of April 27-29, according to Director of Museum Operations Robbie Pratte. He said there are special activities and living history demonstrations planned to be held at the centre that weekend, with additional events to come.

The facility resides in a 7,000 square foot former bank building, which has been converted into the Centre for French Colonial Life over the last two years.

The entire New France campus, consisting of five historic buildings in addition to the new centre, will be open that weekend from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the public having the opportunity to check out the historic structures in addition to the new exhibit on display.

The historic structures are owned by the National Society of Colonial Dames of America in the State of Missouri (NSCDA/MO) and are operated by the staff of New France through an agreement between the organizations.

Introductory exhibits will be hosted in the centre to familiarize visitors with the historical background and significance of the organization’s historic properties, in addition to the historical context of French, Spanish and Native American influences on the region.

Temporary exhibits will be rotated through the centre, with the first such exhibit focusing on archaeology of French settlements in the Mississippi River Valley.

“It will explore how the work of archaeologists in Illinois and Missouri can inform and enlighten us about the everyday lives of people who lived here in the 1700s and early 1800s,” said a statement issued by New France. “The exhibit will include materials excavated at (National Society of Colonial Dames of America in the State of Missouri) sites in Ste. Genevieve, along with artifacts found on French Colonial sites in western Illinois and metropolitan St. Louis.”

Materials originating from sites outside of Ste. Genevieve are on loan from other institutions, with some never having been available for public viewing before.

The Centre for French Colonial Life was made possible by donations from members of NSDCA/MO, private donations and grants from other foundations. The project made use of no federal or local public funding.

New France: The Other Colonial America has been preserving historic buildings in Ste. Genevieve since the 1940s, when the organization’s members saved and restored the Bolduc House.

After the opening weekend of April 27-29, the campus hours will return to Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

For more information about the campus of New France: The Other Colonial America or about the organization’s new Centre for French Colonial Life, contact its offices at 573-883-3105.

Jacob Scott is a reporter with the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3616 or at


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