Visitors Guide to
Prairie du Rocher, Illinois
The original portion of the Creole
House was built in approximately 1800 by Dr. Robert McDonald, who had
migrated to Prairie du Rocher from South Carolina. This one room dwelling
was used as a living room, kitchen, dining area, and sleeping quarters.
MacDonald later added a second room which was used as either an office or
as an additional bedroom. This portion of the house was constructed in the
French creole vernacular post in ground (poteaux-en-terre) manner that was
common in this region in the 18th century.
In 1830 McDonald sold the home to
William Henry who enlarged the house by adding three rooms and an attic
garret. This part of the house was built in an American style using studs
rather than posts set into the ground. This addition essentially created a
two family dwelling. In 1948 Abraham Lee purchased the house and later Lee
sold the house to his business partner Franklin W, Brickley in 1855.
Brickley added four additional rooms, a long front porch in the Southern
style, a basement, and made significant renovations.
The Creole House is the birthplace
of Henry Clay Hansbrough. Born in 1848 he was the first congressman from
North Dakota, and later a senator from that state. Hansbroughs was
sometimes called the ‘father’ of irrigation in the United States and
was a national figure in liberal Republican politics until his death in
the years the house fell in disrepair. Because the architecture of the
house is unique in that it represents both French and American influences
it attracted the interest of local historians and was placed on the
National Register of Historic Places in 1973. In 1979, heirs William
Gonterman, Mrs. Edyth Ziebold and her son, Frank, donated the Creole House
to the Randolph County Historical Society. The Society has made
significant progress in restoring the house. It currently is furnished
with period antiques including a corner cabinet once owned by Shadrach
Bond, the first governor of the State of Illinois.
Visiting the Creole House
The Creole House
open Rendezvous weekend (first weekend in June) and the third Sunday in
September free of charge. Any
other time it is open for groups or individuals by appointment.
Parking spaces are available along Market Street.
Admission is $2 for adults, $1 students and
children under 12 free.
Directions: The Creole House is located in the
town of Prairie du Rocher, about an hours drive south of St. Louis. Take
IL-3 to Ruma and then turn west on IL-155. Follow IL-155 until you reach
Prairie du Rocher. Turn left on Market Street (near the grain elevator)
and travel approximately 2 blocks until you reach the Creole House
on the left side of Market Street.
W 90° 05.849'
Learn more about the Prairie du Rocher area.