In the late 1730s, French Canadian colonists settled the river bottom on the west side of the Mississippi River. The village was one of many French communities that formed the Illinois Country. This territory was held by France until the country ceded the territory west of the Mississippi to Spain in 1763. The settlement survived the political transition and a flood that forced residents to move three miles northwest around 1785. Here, the settlement grew into a thriving town that survives today as Ste. Genevieve.
The Amoureux House embodies Ste. Genevieve’s roots as a French settlement. Built in 1792, Jean-Baptiste St. Gemme Beauvais Jr. constructed the house in the Poteaux-en-Terre style. This post-in-ground technique was unique to houses in the New France region and involved planting boulin (hewn posts) in the ground, filling the spaces between the boulin with bousillage (strengthened mud). This French Colonial method was similar to methods used by various Indigenous peoples in the region, revealing their close contact and the colonists’ adaptation of Native American ways.
The home took its name from its next owners, Benjamin C. and Pélagie Amoureux. In 1852, Benjamin, a white townsman, purchased the home for his family. He and his wife Pélagie, a free Black woman, lived in the house with their five children at a time when law and custom forbade it. The family remained in the house throughout the Civil War and into the 1890s. The Amoureux House stands architecturally as a reminder of the French settlement, and the memory of its residents represents the diverse backgrounds of those who lived and loved in Ste. Genevive.
Contributing Institution: National Park Service
County: Ste. Genevieve