The Bequette-Ribault house charms and intrigues visitors with its history and might become a part of a national park plan in the works.
Currently, plans are being vetted to make the Ste. Genevieve area a national park. Bequette-Ribault falls within the boundaries and, if passed, will join other national historic sites in Missouri.
The area’s unique story begins with French colonials establishing Ste. Genevieve in the 1750s. In 1808, Jean-Baptiste Bequette, Sr. built the house. In 1840, a freed slave named Clarisse bought the Saxon-style house for $405 with the help of a French aristocrat named Jean Ribault, an acquaintance of Bequette. Clarisse then had two children who bore the last name, Ribault. The family continued to own the home until 1969 when her descendant Alonzo Ribault passed away.
In 2014, Hank Johnson, Chaumette Vineyard and Winery owner, sought to complete an unfinished rehabilitation project of Bequette-Ribault begun in the 1980s. Johnson hails from a French background and ties his ancestry to architecture, as seen at Chaumette Winery and Bequette-Ribault. The property, now open as a museum, offers an adjacent hospitality room, which was once a chicken coop. Visitors can view a historical timeline sketched along the wall.
Doug Sparks, Delta Stone and Marble owner and part-time rehabber, did much of the restoration work on the house, using white cement, glue and water to restore the white washed limestone walls. The farm originally sat on 30 acres of land that grew corn, sorghum, pecans and had a moonshine still at one point.
Two unique features of the house are the Norman truss and French poteaux-en-terre vertical post construction. According to the Bequette-Ribault website, the house is one of only five houses in the United States made in this French colonial style.
The rooms are aglow from the gold-straw cornfields outside the walnut windows. Hardwood floors run through the first floor, a ladder stretches through the ceiling into the loft above, and all furniture dates from the 1800s to reflect what the home would have looked like during the era.
Ste. Genevieve is among a collection of small towns that represents Missouri’s very own wine country. Bequette-Ribault is a stop not to miss.