I am posting this because I would like to get a Labege group opinion on two very important issues regarding Maison Laberge.
1) When was Maison built? 2) Should the exterior of Maison Laberge be exposed stone or stucco (crépi)?
1)When was Maison Laberge built?
There has been quite a bit of confusion about exactly when Maison Laberge was built.Back in 1974 when Jacques Gagnon applied for and the house was designated a historic place by the Ministry of Culture.On that application it stated:
Époque de construction:Construite en 1732, agrandie au 19e siècle
However, we know that he later believed that the house was built in 1674 based on the inscription over the east door as he stated in the article Notaires Magazine, p. 24, last paragraph:
Le notaire Gagnon précise toutefois que Ia maison a été construite en deux sections.A la première section érigée en 1674, une deuxième a été ajoutée en 1791. Cette date et I'inscription I.H.S. (Jésus sauveur des hommes) apparaissent en lettres de fer forge au-dessus de Ia porte d'entrée.
That date (indicated on the inscription in stone over the door), however, could not have been the date the original house was built because we know for a fact that in 1729 at the inventory of Guillaume Laberge (Robert’s son who inherited the house) that it was described as a log house
There was "an old house of notched log construction sixteen feet long by sixteen feet wide covered with planks " valued at only 12 pounds, and one " Bedroom fourteen feet wide by eighteen feet long of notched logs covered with planks" that was not estimated.
The original wood house (the 16’x16’ east side) had a large stone chimney.It is my belief that the house was built by Nicolas Durand around 1660 on the concession received from Olivier Le Tardif and prior to his marriage to Françoise Gosse.When Nicolas died andthey were married in 1663, Robert moved in with Françoise Gosse and her infant daughter, Marie Ursule.
The (14’x18’) west addition (now the center portion of the house) which was built in 1692 for Robert and Françoise to retire in (per Guillaume’s inheritance agreement with Robert) had a smaller stone chimney than the original one on the east.
After Guillaume’s death, his son Jacques inherited the house.In 1759, the English attacked and Maison Laberge was burned to the ground (but the two chimneys survived).Sadly, it was in that brutal winter of 1759, without food or shelter, that Jacques died.
Jacques’ son, Guillaume Laberge, inherited the house.It was undoubtedly he who rebuilt the house where he lived with his wife Barbe Julien and they raised their ten children.When the house was rebuilt, the existing chimneys were used and it was built with 2 foot thick stone walls.It was at that time that the inscription was made in the stone over the east door.This then poses two more questions:
When exactly after 1759 was the house rebuilt?We know that Guillaume & Barb had their third child, Marie Marguarite, in 1751.It was not until 1767 that they had their fourth child, Louis.So it was somewhere between 1760 and 1767 that times improved, they were going to expand their family and they needed a home to live in.
Why did the inscription read 1767?Guillaume Laberge (son of Jacques, son of Guillaume, son of Robert) was born in 1721.He would have remembered his grandfather Guillaume when he passed away in 1729 when he was eight years old, but would not have known his great-grandfather Robert.While he may have known that his grandfather Guillaume built the west addition in 1697 for his great-grandfather and grandmother to retire in, he may not have known that the original east portion was built by Nicolas Durand around 1660.Not knowing that, it seems logical that the date that he would place on the inscription would be the birth date of his grandfather Guillaume.Guillaume Laberge was born on April 30, 1674.
As a side note, in 1703, Robert’s son Guillaume, signed a contract to go to Detroit as a farmer.Fort Detroit had just been established in 1701.Guillaume may have done that because Guillaume & Nicolas’ inheritance was being contested by Marie Ursule Durand, the daughter Françoise Gosse & Nicolas Durand.Marie Ursule lost her case and Guillaume ultimately inherited the house.His brother, however, left in 1702, went to Montreal and joined Charles Juchereau de Saint-Denis and a company of 35 men who paddled in eight canoes down the Mississippi to the Ohio to establish a tannery near current day Cairo, Ill.He survived an epidemic shortly thereafter which killed half the men along with Charles Juchereau de Saint-Denis.He then paddled down the Mississippi in 1705, is shown on the plan for Fort Louis de la Louisiane at Mobile (the first permanent French settlement), and is in the 1711 census there.The question which I am now working on is if Nicolas remained there or if he was part of Louis Juchereau de Saint-Denis’ men who went on with him to establish Natchitoches and went on along the El Camino Real across Texas to the Rio Grande and to Mexico City.Stay tuned.
2)Should the exterior of Maison Laberge be exposed stone or stucco (crépi)?
With the approval of the Ministry of Culture, just this week we completed having the stone on the house hydro-blasted to remove the paint and clean it.http://sdrv.ms/14jcG8ohttp://sdrv.ms/14jcG8o
The house now looks similar to as it did back in 1991 as in did in the Notaires Magazine after Jacques Gagnon had removed all of the crumbling crépi.
Back in the early 1760’s, however, the house would not have had crépi.A similar residence which is located at 5580 Rue Royale, less than 2 miles from Maison Laberge towards the City, was built around 1660 and also would have been burned by the English.
So, while the chimneys which were built in 1660 and 1692 surely had exposed stone, when the house was rebuilt with stone walls in the early 1760’s, it is unknown if it matched the exposed stone of the existing chimneys or if crépi was applied.
I would really appreciate everyone’s opinions on Items 1 & 2 above.