Visitors Guide to the
Martin-Boismenue House

2110 First Street
East Carondelet, Illinois
618-332-1782

Accessible Parking Illinois Historic Site Interpretive Information

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Built by Canadian-born Revolutionary War veteran Pierre Martin around 1790, the Martin-Boismenue House is a surviving example of the French Creole poteaux-sur-solle (post-on-sill) architecture and one of the oldest structures of its kind in Illinois. This type of construction utilized upright hewn logs that were seated on a horizontal log sill and the spaces between the logs were filled with stone and mortar chinking. The home is typical of many of the Creole type dwellings that predominated the area in the late 18th century. The larger first floor room was the parlor, or salle, and was a multi-purpose living area. The smaller first floor room was the sleeping room, or chambre, and was a more private area. There was a small attic and cooking was done in the basement. A common feature of Creole architecture are the broad open porches, known as galeries, located on the front and back of the house. The galeries offered additional living space in fair weather as well as to keep the sun and rain off the whitewashed walls.

At the end of the 18th century, the majority of European settlement in the middle Mississippi River Valley was confined to a sixty-mile strip between Cahokia and Kaskaskia/Ste. Genevieve area. This fertile river bottomland, now known as the American Bottoms, was the breadbasket for the Louisiana Territory. The principal crop grown was wheat but other commodities included corn, pumpkins, oats, barley, flax, cotton, and tobacco. Farmers in the era of Martin would use a common field called the le grand champ. Martin would cultivate and harvest his crops with the help of his family, his one or two slaves, and hired day laborers. Once harvested, Martin would have transported his crops south to Kaskaskia where it would then be shipped to New Orleans. Today, the Martin-Boismenue House has been refurbished by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and the interior has been furnished with period pieces (photo right) providing visitors with a glimpse at how the average residents of the Cahokia area lived and worked in the Lewis and Clark era.

The Martin-Boismenue House is part of the Colonial Cahokia State Historic Sites complex that also includes the Cahokia Courthouse, the Jarrot Mansion, and a Visitors Center. Information can be obtained at the Visitors Center about the Holy Family Log Church and other area attractions.

Visiting the Martin-Boismenue House
The Martin-Boismenue House holds two annual houses where the public is invited to view the interior of this early 19th century homestead and to interact with costumed interpreters to learn about French Colonial America. Traditionally these open houses are held during the Fete du Bons Vieux Temps in February and the St. Nicholas Tradition event in December. Check our Calendar listings for current dates and information. If you wish to view the Martin-Boismenue House at other times it is necessary to make an appointment by calling 618-332-1782.
There is no charge to visit the Martin-Boismenue House, although donations are appreciated.


Directions: From the Cahokia Courthouse: Return to IL-3 and turn right. Follow IL-3 south for 4 blocks. Veer right off of IL-3 onto Water Street. Continue on Water street until it crosses a creek and goes into East Carondelet. Continue on Water Street for several blocks. The Martin-Boismenue House will be on the left.

GPS Coordinates
N  38°  32.848'
W 90°  11.921'

Learn more about the Cahokia area.

 
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