Groundbreaking to observe beginning of Badin-Roque House restoration

From left are Minnie Metoyer, Yolande Pinckley, Theresa Demery, Gloria Jones, State Regent DAR Charlotte Hodge White, Carrie Sers, Elaine "Laney" Sylvia, Ethel Marie Guidry and SAHS President Dr. Harlan Mark Guidry

The St. Augustine Historical Society (SAHS) and the Louisiana Society Daughters of American Revolution (DAR) invite the community to a groundbreaking ceremony in celebration of Badin-Roque building restoration. The ceremony will be at the Badin-Roque historic house Saturday, July 10 at 10 a.m.

This article published in the July 1, 2021, print edition

The house is located at 1996 Louisiana Highway 484, 6.6 miles Southeast of Natchez, and is in the midst of the Cane River National Heritage Trail. Made possible from donations throughout the country, St. Augustine Historical Society has gone forward in the preservation and restoration of the Badin-Roque House. Originally built in the early nineteenth century, it is a poteaux-en-terre (post in the earth) French Creole cottage built with bousillage (mud and moss).

Rich in architectural significance, the Badin-Roque House is only one of its kind in the State of Louisiana and one of four surviving examples of poteaux-en-terre (post in the ground) construction remaining in the United States. Due to the composition and frailty of the building, the Badin-Roque House is currently listed as one of Louisiana’s most endangered historic properties by the Louisiana Trust for Historic Places.

The house is of great significance to the State of Louisiana, but most importantly to the Cane River Creoles of Isle Brevelle. In the early 1800’s, the house was purchased by Nicholas Augustin Metoyer (1768-1856), the founder of St. Augustine Catholic Church. A devout Catholic, Metoyer was a prominent and respected planter who was the first born of a French-man and a former slave whose 10 children were the ancestors of Isle Brevelle’s Cane River Creoles. The house was used by French Daughters of the Cross nuns who came to the parish at the request of the Bishop, to educate the Metoyer family children and others in the parish. Thus, the house was the first Convent and later used as a Catholic schoolhouse until a new building was built near St. Augustine Church. In 2017, the St. Augustine Historical Society partnered with the Cane River Creole National Historical Park and the National Center for Preservation Training and Technology (NCPTT) to apply for funding through the Lower Mississippi Delta Initiative.

The funding is a set aside program for partner organizations along the Mississippi River Corridor that focus on preserving culture and promoting heritage tourism. In 2018, Sparks Engineering of San Antonio and Environmental Design of Beaux Bridge, accompanied by staff from NCPTT, visited the site. Sparks Engineering and Environmental Design were selected to do the Badin-Roque House Preservation Study.

The findings detailed the damage and cost estimates in the range of $145,000. Additional funding from the Lower Mississippi Delta initiative helped lower the costs. The St. Augustine Historical Society set up a GoFundMe page specifically for Badin-Roque House repairs. In 2019, the Louisiana Society DAR adopted as its state project the restoration of the Badin-Roque House. State Regent Charlotte Hodge White has been instrumental in promoting the project among the 43 chapters throughout the state. To date the Louisiana Daughters have raised over $80,000 that will be used in the restoration process.

Recently the Cane River National Heritage Area made a financial commitment to see the project through completion. “This is an example of a real partnership for preservation of something amazing,” said President of SAHS Dr. Mark Guidry. “We are making history by coming together to save a structure not only of great value to the St. Augustine Creole community of Isle Brevelle, but also to the State of Louisiana and to America. This structure was around during the times of America’s first President, George Washington. We thank every one for their contributions and prayers. A special thanks to DAR State Regent, Charlotte White, who selected Badin-Roque House and led Louisiana’s DAR fundraising efforts, making it possible to kickoff the restoration today.”