Visitors Guide to
The Pierre Menard Home
State Historic Site
4230 Kaskaskia Street
Ellis Grove, Illinois

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Sitting at the base of Garrison Hill Bluff, almost directly below Fort Kaskaskia, The Pierre Menard Home is one of the finest examples of Southern French Colonial architecture in the middle Mississippi River Valley. Pierre Menard, a French Canadian fur trapper and entrepreneur, began construction on this post-on-sill home in 1800 in the manner that most homes in the area were built, with hand-hewn timbers laid on the foundation (sills) and vertical studs mortised and tenoned into the sills. Local sandstone and limestone was used for the foundation, walks, and walls. Native woods used for the frame construction and finishing included oak, walnut, ash, cypress, and poplar. The home was built in a pecan grove and when the home was built it was at the edge of Kaskaskia village. Floods and erosion forced Kaskaskia to move and the Menard Home is all that is left of the original village that was once the first State Capitol of Illinois.

The rooms in the home are all large, with high ceilings and consist of an entry hall, a parlor where Menard entertained many notable politicians and businessmen, a dining room, bedrooms, and servants quarters. The kitchen, made of three wooden walls and one stone wall that holds a large oven, is directly behind the main building connected by a stone walkway, which was common for the period due to the fear of fire. The springhouse to the north was used as a source of fresh water and for refrigeration and storage. Other buildings include a carriage house and a smokehouse. Field slaves lived in small cabins at the foot of the bluff, and have decayed over the years with nothing visibly remaining. The home has been furnished with period items, many from the Menard family itself, to give the visitor the sense of the upper class French-American lifestyle of the early 19th century.

Pierre Menard (1766-1844) was born in Quebec and left school at the age of fifteen signing on with a trading expedition to explore the vast Illinois Territory. In 1791, Menard moved to Kaskaskia and by the age of 30 had become a prosperous merchant, fur buyer and trader. He was active in political affairs and held many political offices including regimental Major, judge, and delegate to the Indiana Territory Legislature. In 1812, he was elected president of the first Illinois territorial legislature and was selected to write the constitution for the new State of Illinois. In 1813 he became the State's first Lieutenant Governor after the constitution was amended to allow the foreign born Menard to hold office. At the end of his term as Lieutenant Governor, Menard returned to his home at Kaskaskia where entertained, attended to his business matters, and helped in dealings with the Indians. He is also remembered for his work in dispensing aid to the poor.

The Pierre Menard Home State Historic Site is operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Society. An audio-visual program and museum are located in the lower level of the home. The main level of the home is handicapped accessible.

Visiting the Pierre Menard Home State Historic Site
     Visiting Hours
          May through October: Wednesday - Sunday: 9 am to 5 pm
          By appointment only November through April
          Closed on Major Holidays
     Note: The home will be locked. Visitors need to find the staff on grounds or at the visitor center located in the basement to visit the interior.
There is no charge to visit the Pierre Menard Home State Historic Site, although donations are appreciated.

Directions: The Pierre Menard Home is located 6 miles north of Chester, Illinois off of IL-3. Turn west on Fort Kaskaskia Road and go 2 miles and go past the Fort Kaskaskia State Historic Site entrance to Kaskaskia Street (IL-6) and turn right to reach the Pierre Menard Home.

GPS Coordinates
N  37°  57.669'
W 89°  54.403'

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