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September 1, 1999

Governor Ryan Opens Historic Martin/Boismenue House

EAST CARONDELET -- Governor George H. Ryan today presided over the official opening of the Pierre Martin/Boismenue House State Historic Site and thanked the private organization for their dedication in restoring the structure.

"I would like to thank the Prairie Du Pont Preservation Society for the wonderful job they have done to preserve and restore this home," Ryan said. "We can hold this opening today, because of the countless volunteer hours and monetary donations of the Society. Homes like these are architectural treasures and provide valuable information about the early history of the people who helped build our state.

"We are committed to preserving as many of these treasures as we can," he added.

The state acquired the Martin/Boismenue House from the Prairie du Pont Preservation Society. The Illinois General Assembly also appropriated $60,000 last fiscal year to be used to hire staff and manage the house.

Pierre Martin, a local businessman and minor office holder, built the house in 1790. Martin was a Quebec native who built his home in the French Creole style typified by a rectangular floor plan, a gable roof and wide porches. The house, purchased by the Boismenue family in the late 1800s, was remodeled and with clapboard siding in 1913. The family then requested the county records be changed to indicate a 1913 construction date.

The house was set for demolition in 1981, but was saved when a local resident, suspecting it was older than the 1913 in county records, asked to inspect the house. The inspection revealed an intact vertical log structure underneath the clapboard siding. The Prairie du Pont Preservation Society was then formed to purchase the house and restore it.

The Martin/Boismenue House is a typical French dwelling built with the logs arranged vertically, rather than the more commonly known horizontal arrangement typical of later log cabins. The house is unusual because it includes a finished basement with a stone fireplace, a luxury confined to the wealthy in those days.

Considered to be one of the oldest structures of its kind in Illinois, 80 percent of the original building material is still present in the restored house.

The Martin/Boismenue House State Historic Site is administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and is located at the intersection of Water and First streets in Dupo. The home is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. or by request. The home also will be on a school tour schedule.


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