Restoration Projects

The Roque House

The Roque House is owned by the Natchitoches Historic Foundation. The organization helped to restore this historic building after it was moved to the downtown riverbank. The Roque House is located in downtown Natchitoches at 1 Rue Beau Port within the boundaries of the Natchitoches Historic District.

The Roque House is a fine example of French Creole architecture. Its oversized roof and gallery porch are typical of the style. It originally consisted of two main rooms with cabinets on either side. The house was built with the traditional materials used by the earliest settlers of the area, cypress half-timbers and bousillage infill (a mixture of mud, Spanish moss, and deer hair). The house was built in 1803 by a freed slave named Yves, who is also referred to as Pacalé. He constructed the house on his 91-acre farmstead about 22 miles south of Natchitoches along Cane River. Pacalé built the house late in his life, and died at the age of 75, only 15 years after its completion.

The house later was acquired by Madame Philamene Roque and her newlywed husband. Philamene was the granddaughter of Augustin Metoyer, the patriarch of the Cane River Creole community. Philamene outlived her husband and remained in the house until her death in 1941. She was the last tenant of the property, and the house was given her husband’s family name.

After Philamene’s death, the Roque House fell into disrepair for several years. It eventually was purchased by Museum Contents, Inc. In 1967, it was moved to its present location on the riverbank in downtownNatchitoches. During the move, the chimney and the left bedroom were damaged, and the latter was unable to be saved. The building has since been restored by the Natchitoches Historic Foundation, its current owner. After its move, the Roque House served as a museum for many years. It also later served as the headquarters for the Cane River National Heritage Area Commission.

The Cunningham Law Office

In 1994, NHF purchased one of Natchitoches’ most storied structures, the old Cunningham Law Office. NHF restored the building and now uses it for its headquarters.

It’s a white clapboard, green shuttered building on the Northwest corner of Second and Trudeau Streets which was built in 1860 by Henry Safford. Interestingly, there are still in place the 36 foot long richly lightered virgin pine sills. They’re still held in place by those wooden pegs and remain as sound as when they were fitted together by hand labor.

Another matter of interest is that five generations of lawyers have occupied that building, including the son of the former owner, W. Payton Cunningham, Jr.

Soon after the building was completed in 1860, Safford sold an undivided half interest in the lot and building to lawyer James Gregg Campbell, the son of the noted lawyer and jurist, J.G Campbell. The sale was for $1,883.44, and the divided ownership lasted 67 years.

Originally, they used white plaster on the walls, but when the building settled and ruined the plaster, they replaced it with twin pine panels. Unique twin chimneys are in the center with fireplaces back-to-back giving all the necessary heat for the offices.

While the law offices were in use, the furnishings consisted of two roll top desks, bookkeeper desk which was a revolving one where the on using it would either stand or sit on a tall stool, and an old plantation desk with tavern chairs. Also there was a collection of old law books, French, English, and Louisiana, along with others pertaining to Louisiana and Natchitoches history. It seemed to be a habit of the lawyer to keep supply of maps of the parish and some Caddo Indian artifacts, and a French flintlock fowling piece plus a sword of circa 1725.

Today, the foundation owns and rents, and preserves this old office building. The rental income gives NHF funds for its other preservation projects projects. The building is also used for NHF board meetings and for special exhibits, such as the mourning exhibit held during the foundation’s annual Sacred Places Tour.