Driving down Highway 484 through Isle Brevelle, you might not notice an unassuming bousillage house set back from the road. The Badin-Roque House has a rich cultural history dating to the 1700s. It’s also in danger of being lost forever.
The house has great significance to Cane River Creoles of Isle Brevelle. In the early 1800s, the house was purchased by Nicolas Augustin Metoyer (1768-1856), the founder of St. Augustine’s Catholic Church. A devote Catholic, Metoyer was a prominent and respected planter who was the first-born of a Frenchman and a former slave whose 10 children are the ancestors of Isle Brevelle’s Cane River Creoles. The house was used as a convent and later as a Catholic schoolhouse.
The structure also has a rich architectural heritage. It’s only one of four surviving examples of poteaux-en-terre (post-in-ground) construction in the US. The style of building is very rare due to the rate of decay in the buried ends of the posts. Badin-Roque is no exception—the building is currently in poor condition.
It wasn’t much of a surprise when the Louisiana Trust for Historic Places named the Badin-Roque House as one of Louisiana’s most endangered historic properties in September. The St. Augustine Historical Society was already working to come up with a plan to preserve it.
In 2017, the St. Augustine Historical Society partnered with Cane River Creole National Historical Park and the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) to apply for funding through the Lower Mississippi Delta Initiative. An evaluation of the structural integrity was conducted in April 2018. They found a significant amount of decay and rot, particularly on the vertical posts that extend into the ground. The report also found insufficient storm water drainage that allows water to pool at the base of the building, furthering decay of the post foundation system.
Along with the findings and recommended treatment, the completed preservation plan provides cost estimates for repairs in the range of $145,000. However, with the help of some additional funding from the Lower Mississippi Delta Initiative, those costs have been lowered.
“We were incredibly fortunate that some last-minute partnership funding became available for this project. We used those funds to purchase a large quantity of cypress lumber, prune adjacent trees, and complete pest control for termite and carpenter bees,” said Carrie Mardorf, Superintendent of Cane River Creole National Historical Park.
With those costs already covered, the St. Augustine Historical Society is now fundraising through a GoFundMe page, specifically set up for the Badin-Roque House repairs. The hope is that local residents, community businesses, historic preservation professionals, and the Creole community can all come together to provide the needed funding.
“Since 2013, the SAHS has been seeking a way to save Badin-Roque,” says Dr. Mark Guidry, President of the St. Augustine Historical Society. “I am forever grateful for the leadership of Carrie Mardorf and the assistance of Sarah Marie Jackson of NCPTT, in getting us the preservation study. We now have a clear road map of what needs to be done to save the house. In an era where grants are few and limited, we will reach out to all our partners to save St. Augustine’s first Convent – a place of local, statewide, and national significance.” Dr. Guidry concludes, “It’s time to raise money to prevent collapse. We want it here for the future generation to know their history and heritage.”
“This project was truly a partnership effort. There were a lot of people who came together to make this project happen, and we all want to see it succeed. We’re hopeful that this momentum can continue to build so that the repairs can be completed in the near future,” said Mardorf.
To donate to the Badin-Roque GoFundMe page, go to www.gofundme.com and search for Badin-Roque or donate directly at https://www.gofundme.com/SAVE-CANE-RIVERs-1857-CONVENT. You may also contact SAHS Fundraising Campaign Leaders: Tommy Roque, Sr., Anita Metoyer Evans, and Dr. Rand Metoyer. All donations will be used to support its repairs and maintenance.
For more information, you may contact the President of St. Augustine Historical Society at firstname.lastname@example.org or the Superintendent of Cane River Creole National Historical Park at email@example.com