After about two decades in the making, St. Genevieve in southeast Missouri has officially become the state’s first ever National Historical Park.
The town – dating back to the early 1700s – was the first organized European settlement west of the Mississippi River and is the only surviving French Colonial village in America. It is known for its architecture that features unique vertical log designs.
Some of the historic properties include the Felix Valle House, the Shaw House, the Green Tree Tavern, the Creole House, the Bequette-Ribault House, the Zarinelli property, the Delassus-Kern House and the Zerwig property.
During a ceremony there this week to celebrate the town’s designation, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, said St. Genevieve is taking its rightful place among the nation’s most historically and culturally significant destinations.
“This is a story that is an important part of who we are. It’s an important of our state. It’s an important part of the country,” said Blunt. “These buildings each have their own stories to tell. Essentially the houses are houses that you could find the core of those houses anywhere in Normandy if you just looked hard enough.”
Blunt and Congressman Jason Smith, R-Missouri, lead efforts in Washington to make the town of about 4,500 a National Historical Park. In 2018, Congress and President Donald Trump approved the designation after a National Park Service study declared dozens of the area properties as historically significant. The action authorized the National Park Service to acquire about 13 acres of land.
“This has such potential to be one of the great historic walking parks in America,” said Blunt. “The story, in so many ways, can tell itself with just a little bit of help. And that little bit of help is what happens when the community, the state, the federal government come together.”
St. Genevieve welcomes thousands of tourists each year who want to see for themselves the rich history the town has to offer. During this week’s ceremony, Missouri Department of Natural Resources Director Carol Comer was hopeful the partnership would give the community a boost.
“This new historical park is expected to have a major impact on local and state tourism as people from all over the country and the world learn about the significance of this area,” said Comer.
Ste. Genevieve’s government and the National Park System will together manage the park, the 422nd park to join the system.
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