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August 13 to September 21, 2003 Research Trip Highlights
Research Trip to the United States: Ottawa (Canada) / Springfield (Illinois) / St. Louis (Missouri) ~ August 13 to September 21, 2003  


Eric Krause, Krause House Info-Research Solutions
September 21, 2003

Visited the Red House Interpretive Center (Cape Girardeau) under modern reconstruction (18th century) which used some re-used original timbers, modern bricks as a fill, with an exterior crepi, and an interior enduit to be applied to sawn laths within the building.

A highlight of the fall 1803 voyage of Lewis and Clark was a stop in Cape Girardeau and a visit with town founder Louis Lorimier at the "Red House," his trading post and home. The construction of a replica of the Red House near the original site, which will be used as an interpretive center, is based on this visit.

Cape_Girardeau.jpg (36704 bytes)

The "Red House" 
under construction

An e-mail will be sent to determine if they have the answers to some of the questions that the Fortress has re its "charpente" constructions. The reply will be posted here when it is received.


To whom it may concern (Missouri Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Commission):

First, let me introduce myself. I am now retired from the Fortress of Louisbourg, National Historical Site, Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, Canada, where for 25 years I was an historian and Historical Records Supervisor. If you wish to know more about me, please consult my web at: 

In September of this year, I was on an historical research trip that took me to, among other places, the Missouri Historical Society where I found much in my area of interest: 18th century French construction techniques and materials which the Fortress of Louisbourg might find useful. Their official research site (for which I am web master) is as follows: Web 

For your interest, the Fortress of Louisbourg is the largest reconstruction project of its type ever undertaken in North America

Now to the point. I also visited the Red House Interpretive Center (Cape Girardeau). Since this reconstructed building may have an associated historical structural record that guides you in its interpretation, I am interested in what that might be. A list of any published, and, in particular, unpublished in-house reports would be useful as would that of any reconstruction or building plans that you may have developed.



Dear Mr. Krause:

The reconstructed Red House design is based solely upon a drawing made of the original building in the 1800s by one Sarah Bollinger Dougherty. She claimed she had been in it many times and may have lived in it for awhile as a child. The house was destroyed in a tornado in about 1850 and we do not know whether the drawing was done before or after that time. The drawing is rather rough, but it clearly shows that it was built in the "poteau sur sil" vertical log style common to the French in Canada and Normandy and in St. Louis and Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. The house was built in the late 1790s by Louis Lorimier, born in Canada and resident of St. Louis and Ste. Genevieve before he became the founder of the City of Cape Girardeau, so we assume that the French style of construction would be familiar to him as the normal way to build a fine house. 

I drafted the plan for the reconstruction after examining the drawing and personal examination of the details of construction of several of the houses in Ste. Genevieve and the available detailed plans of those houses and a book entitled "Colonial St. Louis" by Charles E. Peterson published by the Patrice Press of Tuscon AZ. We used the construction techniques used in earlier times (altho with modern tools) and beefed it up to modern standards for public buildings (and concealed the beef). 

I hope this information will be helpful to you. 

Steve Strom, Red House Interpretive Center Project Manager.

Hello Steve:

Thanks for the answer. I appreciate the time you took with it.

Peterson's work, of course, is well known, but what intrigues me more is your statement concerning this Poteau sur sole building that "I drafted the plan for the reconstruction after examining the drawing and personal examination of the details of construction of several of the houses in Ste. Genevieve ...".

From this I assume that when you examined these extant buildings of Ste. Genevieve, that you were able to discern many existing details which would be of great interest to the Fortress of Louisbourg: for example, when we constructed our 1/2 timber buildings, known as "charpente" construction, we not only examined our own 18th-century manuscript records of that period, but also that of other places like Quebec, Louisiana, etc., but rarely, did we enjoy the luxury of examining extant "charpente" buildings. Consequently, your investigations might hold new knowledge for us: some examples - did you notice whether the vertical wall timbers were set in a continuous slot in the ground sill, or were they individually joined (mortise and tenons, etc.)? Did you encounter any "original" [i.e. not a later procedure] "crawl space" venting, either by cutting vents in the wooden ground sill or in the masonry foundation if one existed? Did you find original exterior "emboiture" doors and what precisely was the joinery?

I could on and on, but I believe that you get the idea. We are looking for details (i.e. did you make sketches of what you found?), and in return, we would be more than glad to trade information at no charge. The Fortress of Louisbourg has a restoration architect on staff, and she is very knowlegeable about 18th-centuty French buildings, and I know she would be more than pleased - despite how busy she is these days - to correspond with you, detail by detail.

To gain an idea of just how serious our programme at the Fortress was (and is) over the years, simple visit the research site for the Fortress of Louisbourg where the Louisbourg Institute has replicated the Fortress publication [a very large searchable database] of all of its meetings of Structural Design since the 60's. This was pre-computer days, and so all the information was hand-inputted, and thus there are errors, but I am cleaning them up as I encounter them. The address is:




Eric: I made no sketches of what I was seeing when I examined the Ste.
Genevieve buildings. I did not observe any dado slots in the sills for
insertion of vertical logs, and was not aware of that possibility but if
there were they probably were covered up when the bousillage was inserted
between the logs. We used the mortise and tenon and peg system.The dado
system would have been a lot more work. We are finished with our framework
and are finishing the inside. We used brick fillers and masonry mortar
stucco to fill in between the vertical logs, rather than mud, for permanency
and ease of maintenance.

Good luck in your research. Steve Strom.

Hi Steve:

I appreciate all the time that you took with my request. You were most kind, and I wish you every luck with your programme.


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