This house is
one of the few remaining examples of the French colonial
architecture that once characterized the first
settlement of Switzerland County. Once common throughout
the Mississippi Valley, the house was built ca. 1805-15
by Frenchmen who found themselves without work after
Thomas Jefferson negotiated the 1803 Louisiana Purchase.
Possibly some of these men were
builders who met
Switzerland County founder Swiss native, John James Dufour, during his
1796 sojourn to the middle Mississippi valley to seek help in
establishing his new settlement on the banks of the Ohio. In 1802,
Dufour petitioned Congress to enter lands in Indiana on credit with the
view of introducing grape culture to the United States. In 1805, another
French-speaking Swiss, Louis Gex Oboussier bought a portion of that
property we call Musee de Venoge.
The people who lived
in this house could have been farmers. No doubt they cleared land,
planted vineyards, and helped build the town we call Vevay. Most people
would say this home is not important. In fact, it is a excellent example
of the French colonial architecture that began in the lower Mississippi
Valley and spread into the Ohio.
The structure is
posts-on-sill, timber frame, mortise-joined and wood-pegged throughout. Brick nogging insulation supported the first floor plaster, hand-split
accordion lath the second. The
first floor is completely restored and furnished.
The Venoge Farmstead is
located two miles west of Vevay in Switzerland County on State Route
129. From Vevay, drive two miles west on Hwy 56 turn right on Hwy 129, Venoge
is one mile up.