Backstory and Context
The Roque House is a two-room building located on the East bank of the Cane River Lake in Natchitoches, Louisiana. The Roque House’s name originated from its last residential occupant, Madame Aubert Roque, also known as Philamene Roque. She was the granddaughter of Augustin Metoyer, who bought the house and was a prominent figure in the local Creole community[i].The Roque House is significant not only due to the fact that is represents the unique frame and style of French Creole architecture, but because it is an important historic cultural institution represents the era of 200 years past.
The Roque House’s design has a hipped roof, encircling gallery, and central chimney. The frame of the house is constructed from cypress timbers. It was packed with bousillage: a mixture of mud, deer hair, and Spanish moss[ii]. The material is temperature regulating, making it cool in the summer and warm in the winter. There are few people today who know how to construct authentic bousillage[iii]. The fact that the Roque House still stands today is representative of how well built it was. The Roque House is an important living piece of history that symbolizes the cultural heritage of Natchitoches.
The Roque House was built in 1803 by a freed slave named Pacale (who is also known as Yves) 22 miles south of Natchitoches[iv].Pacale was the son of slaves Jean Baptiste and Marie of the Derbanne family. Pacale was raised Catholic and his Christian name, Yves, was given early in his life.Pacale soon became a skilled carpenter and he was often called in by other plantations for commissions. He bought his freedom at 53 years old in 1798 for $200, using the money he made from carpentry. Immediately after purchasing his freedom, he bought land to farm on, and he built the Roque House. Pacale died in 1818, 15 years after the completion of the house, at the age of 75. He had three slaves who helped him farm the land. Two were later freed, and the last slave inherited the land. Pacale’s house was bought by the slave Augustin Metoyer, who died in 856, and it was eventually passed down to Madame Philamene Aubert Roque.
Madame Roque moved in shortly afterward with her newlywed husband. Madame Roque outlived her husband and she lived in the house until her death in 1941[v]. The building was then bought by Museum Contents Inc, and it became a museum. The Roque House was relocated and restored in 1967 so the building could be monitored closely by the Natchitoches Historic Foundation. The Natchitoches Historic Foundation still owns the house, and it serves as a cultural tourist site.The Roque House is unique in its style and architecture, because it represents the style of French Creole construction during the 19th century. The house is rich in history and became an integral part of the Natchitoches community over the years. Its significance as a cultural and historical landmark is still enjoyed today.
[i]"Roque House." The Premier City and Travel Guide to Natchitoches, Louisiana. Accessed February 22, 2019. http://www.natchitoches.net/attractions/roque-house/.
[ii]Borstel, Hallie. "Bousillage: Relearning a Uniquely Louisiana Building Technique." Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans. February 11, 2018. Accessed March 21, 2019. https://prcno.org/bousillage-relearning-uniquely-louisiana-building-technique/.
[iii]Posted by Go Is My Middle Name. "The Roque House...Historic Natchitoches." Go Is My Middle Name. April 24, 2014. Accessed February 22, 2019. https://goismymiddlename.wordpress.com/2014/04/24/the-roque-house-historic-natchitoches/.
[iv]"Roque House--Cane River National Heritage Area: A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary." National Parks Service. Accessed February 20, 2019. https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/caneriver/roq.htm.
"Yves Pacale." Cane River National Heritage Area. January 19, 2017. Accessed March 14, 2019. https://www.canerivernha.org/stories/yves-pacale.
Roque House - Natchitoches Historic District - Natchitoches, LA - NRHP Historic Districts - Contributing Buildings on Waymarking.com. Accessed March 14, 2019. http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM6AK8_Roque_House_Natchitoches_Historic_District_Natchitoches_LA.