This Old House

Louis Ratté LaBriére Home How It Would Have Looked*
*Courtesy of Mark L. Evans - Author of "The Commandant's Last Ride"

Photos taken by my friend Jean





Lucille Basler's History of Ste. Genevieve has this to say about the house, "in 1809, Louis (RATTE LABRUYERE), a master locksmith and his son Julian sold the property to John McArthur stating he had resided here for 25 years, which would date the house 1784. Immediately after the purchase John McArthur mortgaged the property and mentioned the two story house, purchased from Ratte.

In his Ste. Genevieve Architectural Survey, Dr. Osmund Overby of the University of Missouri described the Hoffman home, known historically as the John McArthur House and locally as the Ratte Labruyere-Hoffman House this way: Federal I-house. C. 1809. Heavy-timber frame construction. This three-bay frame I-house with brick end chimneys and two-story rear porch is one of the finest remaining American houses from the early 19th century. Perhaps because this house has been allowed to deteriorate instead of being expanded and modernized over the years, its present appearance is close to that of the original building. Its exterior appearance suggests that the building may retain its original structural system and interior plan. Like the John Donohue House on S. Third, the Josiah Millard House on N. Main, and the Old Academy on N. Fifth, it probably contained a central hallway when it was built. Unlike the Abraham Newfield House on Merchant and the Aaron Elliot House on S. Main, other early frame structures built by Americans, it has not undergone extensive renovations and additions. Thus it may be the best preserved American frame house built in the first decade of the 19th century.


Thank you to Patricia Weeks for her sharing of the following information on the "Ratte" house.

This picture is from the Ratte Labruyere house, still standing (barely) in Ste Genevieve. Source" Frenchmen and French Ways in the Mississippi Valley, ed John Francis McDermott, Univ of IL Press, Urbana IL, 1969 page 158

Page 152 Ratte(Labruyere)-Hoffman House (corner of South Gabouri and Main Street). This two story structure is now owned by William Hoffman, a junk dealer, and his mother, Mrs. Rose Hoffman. Galleries, on one side only, are plastered and the building contains no indoor plumbing.

Although it is in very poor condition, probably few major revisions will be needed. There is no definite evidence of the actual date of construction; however, when this property was sold by Louis Ratte and Julien and Marie Labriere to John McArthur in 1809, the deed mentioned that Ratte had lived on the premises for 25 years. The first paragraph of the deed is as follows:

This indenture made this thirteenth date of September one thousand eight hundred and nine, between Louis Ratte (Labruyere), Julien Lubriere and Marie Lubriere, wife of said Julien of the district of Ste Genevieve and territory of Louisiana of the one part and John McArthur of the same place of the other part.

Witnesseth that the said Louis, Julien and Marie aforesaid for and in consideration of Eight Hundred and Twenty-Five Dollars current money of the Unites States to them in hand paid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged hath granted, bargained and sold, and by those present doth grant, bargain and sell unto the said John McArthur his heirs and assigns forever a certain lot of land situate lying and being in the Town of Ste Genevieve being a town lot containing two and a half arpents be the same more or less and bounded in front by a street on the north by a lot of Mon' Jean Bte Pratte pere, on the East or Rear by the present enclosure of the said lot which leaves a street between the same and the common big field and on the South by a Street between this lot and the lot of Thomas Oliver and being the same lot of land originally improved and occupied for twenty-five years last past by the said Louis Ratte.

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