Southeast Missouri State University
For more information, contact:
Ann K. Hayes (573) 651-2552




CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., June 20, 2003 - Southeast Missouri State University students will be looking for clues next week, June 23-27, about the history of the Delassus-Kern House along Hwy. 61 just south of Ste. Genevieve, Mo., when they engage in archaeology work as part of the University's Seventh Annual Historic Preservation Field School.

The students will be excavating in the yard around the home, searching for bits of bottles and other remnants that would give them a glimpse of a bygone era.

Last summer, field school students conducted soil testing and determined where "out" buildings and privies likely were located, giving students this summer a starting point on where to begin, said Dr. Bonnie Stepenoff, coordinator of Southeast's Historic Preservation Program. Since trash was often thrown down privies, students hope to find ceramics and other items in these locations when excavating begins at 10 a.m. June 23.

The Delassus-Kern House is important because of its potential connections with Monsieur Pierre Charles de Hault de Lassus de Luziere. Luziere, a French nobleman whose family fled from the French Revolution, helped found New Bourbon, a community established in 1793 for French ex-patriots on the bluffs immediately to the south of present-day Ste. Genevieve. The town was abandoned by the mid-19th century, and little exists from it today. The Delassus-Kern house contains, within the first story, vertical-post construction characteristic of French Colonial architecture. The second story, added in the 1890s, occurred well after the French Colonial period and, instead, shows German-American influence. The largest mystery about the house lies in where the 18th century French Colonial portion was originally constructed. Some evidence suggests the house was built by Monsieur de Luziere in New Bourbon, and was later moved to its current location around the 1830s.

Stepenoff says "there is no clear picture of the history of the house."

She says the Kern family lived in the home until about 1979. In 1993, the home was given to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to maintain and stabilize after it was severely damaged by Mississippi River flooding. DNR hopes to eventually open the house to the public as an interpretive site, she said.

Southeast's Historic Preservation Field School got under way June 16. The students have spent the past week conducting historical research at the courthouse, library and churches on free Black families in Ste. Genevieve before the Civil War. The Field School is based from the gift shop behind the Amoureux House located south of downtown Ste. Genevieve on St. Mary's Road.

During the third week, June 30-July3, students will attend paint analysis workshops at the Shaw House in downtown Ste. Genevieve. During this period, students will take paint samples from historic houses and tour several homes. During the fourth week, students will finalize research reports and analyze architectural photos.

Southeast students participating in this summer's field school are Michael Morin, a history major from Ste. Genevieve, Mo.; and Southeast historic preservation majors Margaret Harmon of Cape Girardeau, Lacey Illers of Jackson, Mo., Beth Vandeven of Puxico, Mo., Pamela Watson of DeWitt, N.Y., and Traci Ziegler of O'Fallon, Ill. Also participating are Shannon Scott, a Southeast music major from Altenburg, Mo., and visiting students Jason Moen of Papillion, Neb., and Jason Williamson of Fremont, Neb., both of whom are students at Northwest Missouri State University. Other visiting students participating in the field school are Frank Ruf of Wichita, Kan., and Alicia Krockman of Rutherford, N.J.

The students receive hands-on field experience in documentation and preservation of the built environment, including Ste. Genevieve's rare vertical log structures. Authentic 18th and early 19th century buildings in the Felix Valle State Historic Site serve as learning laboratories. The goal of the Field School is to acquaint students with the broad array of skills and techniques affecting historic preservation issues and historic site management. Students learn to gather and record architectural data and how to effectively use library and archival collections in researching history, cultural landscapes and historic structures. Technical sessions provide an introduction to preservation tools such as historic paint analysis and the use of remote sensing for examining subterranean archaeological features.

Students engaged in historic building documentation, archaeological field work, classroom sessions, special lectures and tours of historic houses and sites in Ste. Genevieve. They earn three credit hours during the four-week session.

In conjunction with the Field School, two lunch bag seminars, which are open to the public, are planned for noon to 1 p.m. on June 25 and July 8 in the County Services Building, 255 Market Street in Ste. Genevieve. Ken Cole will speak June 25 on artifact analysis. Dr. J. David Cameron, Southeast assistant professor of history, will speak July 8 on France and the United States.

The Historic Preservation Field School is being conducted in Ste. Genevieve through July 10. The school is sponsored by Southeast Missouri State University and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources with support from Les Amis.


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