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Celebrating the life and times of Louis Bolduc
Zoe Bolduc (third from the left) is the last of the Bolduc family to own and live in Louis Bolduc’s home in Ste. Genevieve. This photo was taken in 1958 and is courtesy of Bolduc House Museum in Ste. Genevieve.

STE. GENEVIEVE – One of Ste. Genevieve’s earliest settlers will be honored Wednesday in a public celebration at the house that bears his name.

Louis Bolduc, a Canadian-born lead miner, merchant and planter, was born Dec. 24, 1734, but would have been more apt to celebrate his saint’s day – Aug. 25 – than his birthday, said Lesley Barker, director of the Louis Bolduc House, 123 S. Main St., in Ste. Genevieve’s historic district.

“That’s a French tradition,” Barker explained. “People were named after saints and would make a big deal on their saint’s days. Whether the birthday would have been celebrated, we’re not sure.”

This week’s events in the historic district of Ste. Genevieve include the free Fourth Friday of the Month Open Studio and Gallery Walk from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday.

Wednesday is the Feast Day of St. Louis IX, a French crusader king who sainted very soon after his death. He was the patron saint of King Louis XV, Barker said.

Louis Bolduc was a fifth-generation of Bolducs stemming from Pierre Bolduc, who was Louis XIV’s apothecary. A video on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faXI6EyFEd8) called History of the Bolducs - The Apothecary Dynasty, shows paintings of Pierre, his son and grandson, all of whom were part of an apothecary dynasty in France.

Missouri’s Louis Bolduc was born in the parish of St. Joachim, Canada, the son of Zacharie Bolduc and Jeanne (Meunier) Bolduc.

“He came as a refugee from the French and Indian War, in which St. Joachim was essentially destroyed during the Battle of Quebec,” Barker said. 

Bolduc settled in the original settlement of Ste. Genevieve in the 1760s, which was located near the Mississippi River about three miles southeast of the current town. However, several floods eventually destroyed that town and people relocated to the current site.

Bolduc’s house, considered an outstanding example of French colonial architecture, was built in 1792. He lived in the house until his death in 1815.

The Bolduc House was the first authentically restored historic structure in Ste. Genevieve. It is built in the "poteaux sur sole" (posts on a sill) French style of construction to handle the cold winters, combined with hip roof and porch features of construction in tropical French colonies to handle the hot summers. 

The house was built with vertically heavy oak timbers set about six inches apart and mortared with a mixture of mud, straw and animal hair. The roof is supported by a Norman truss system held together with mortise and tenon joinery. The yard is surrounded by a heavy log picket fence (stockade fence), which originally would have been used to keep roaming pigs and other animals away from the house.

The site includes an 18th century garden and the steep hip roof that spreads out on all four sides and covers an enclosed porch called a “galerie.” 

The house was completely restored to its 1790's configuration in 1956-1957 after extensive research to ensure authenticity. Now a museum, the Bolduc House is owned and operated by The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Missouri. 

The Bolduc House is a National Historic Landmark and the winner of the 2005 Preserve America Award.

Wednesday’s celebration is part of the ongoing effort to learn more about the history of the house and its occupants.

Curator Sam Sampson will portray Monsieur Louis Bolduc for the evening. There will be a croquet game and light snacks made with produce from the Bolduc House gardens. All are welcome, especially members of the Bolduc family and others who have had some tie to the home.

“Our goal is to have an annual event that will be a reason for Bolduc family members and people who have a relationship with the site to get together,” Barker said. “We hope people will come to share their stories and to bring documents and photos that we can scan for our use.”

Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for students through college. Visitors also may use the two-day Ste. Genevieve passport. Cost per ticket, which covers several historic sites, is $10 for adults and $5 for children under the ages of 18.

Members of the Colonial Dames, Friends of the Bolduc House, and Bolduc family relatives will be admitted for free. For more information, call 573-883-3105.

Friday’s studios and galleries art walk runs from 6 to 9 p.m. and includes tours of approximately a dozen studios and galleries that feature a wide variety of art works of area and regional artists. This month, featured artists include local artist Anna Kirchner and 16-year-old Allisone McClanahan, who will display her unique style of art combining graffiti, calligraphy and abstract techniques.

Other retail businesses will also participate in the event by being open during the same hours. Refreshments will be served at various locations and maps are available at each location designating the open galleries and studios.

For more information about the monthly art walks, go to the website, http://stegenartwalk.blogspot.com.

Paula Barr is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 172 or at pbarr@dailyjournalonline.com.


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