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Monday, June 30, 2008

Since we deleted our French Colonial heritage, try Ste. Genevieve!

If you've been to New Orleans, and are a bit of a history nut, and are a St. Louis resident, you are likely very depressed and disappointed that very little of St. Louis's French Colonial Heritage still exists.

Sure, Soulard is evocative of old St. Louis's Frenchtown (even though it was heavily German-influenced by the turn of the 20th Century). But none of it's from the Colonial period.

The founder of St. Louis, Pierre Laclede, for whom "the Landing" was named, was a New Orleanian Creole businessowner sent to the the Upper Louisiana Territory to carve a trading post out of the wilderness in 1764.
Had the territory east of the Mississippi River not suddenly transferred to British hands, St. Louis would have likely been a hamlet of a trading village. Instead, Laclede thought it wise to establish a settlement, so that the new French town could defend itself.

St. Genevieve--the only existing French settlement so far north along the Mississippi--quite nearly became such a trading post. If it had abutted the river, it would have been today's "St. Louis". Because the village was two miles inland, Laclede passed it up.

The original French city of St. Louis--with street names like Rue d'Eglise (Church Street) and La Grande Rue (Main Street)--is totally lost. Not a single colonial structure remains.

But visions of it, that Creole St. Louis, controlled by famous names such as the Chouteaus, remain in Ste. Genevieve, the city that could have been us.

See them below,
compliments of Ste. Genevieve's website:

These homes--many open to the public--were constructed between 1770 and 1820.


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