A Little Local History Surprise

The Lewis and Clark Expedition’s final embarkation was at noon on May 14, 1804 from St. Charles Missouri, the first permanent European settlement on the Missouri River and the first one in Missouri. St. Charles was a predominantly French settlement dating from around 1769. There are 88 buildings dating from 1790 – 1804 on South Main St. that have been restored and are still in use today! I love to go to Main Street and wander through the shops…just imagining what they might have looked like when they were built, who might have walked the floors, who made the bricks, who forged the iron, who chopped trees and shaped the logs?? So much history happened in my little neck of the woods, history that had a huge impact on our country, history that I find fascinating and often miss when it’s right in front of me! Heck, the name of my school is Lewis and Clark Elementary!

It’s been too hot to hike…mid 90’s…forget it! So Russ and I headed to Main Street last Sunday to his favorite sweet shop to get some fudge and decided to walk around a bit. We headed to my favorite store, Native Traditions Gallery, to see if the sculpture I’d love to have (in my dreams) is still there. It is 😊 As we were leaving, Russ spotted a CD by one of my favorite bands…Indigenous featuring Mato Nanji…yep, he bought it for me! As you might guess, the band members are Native American…Mato is Yankton Souix, but the music is straight up Blues. If you like Blues music, check them out!

Ok, back to the topic at hand…music always sidetracks me! So, as we were walking back toward the car, I saw what I thought was an old barn behind a building with a walkway going to it. I had to check it out! I’ve been up and down that street hundreds of times since I was in my teens, but I’d never noticed the barn before. It wasn’t a barn at all! It was a building that had been reconstructed between 2004-2008! And an amazing building it is! It’s a church! The Historic 1791 Borromeo Log Church. It was rebuilt on the original building site, which is pretty cool. But the way it was built…Amazing! It’s a French style vertical log building, the first one built in this area, perhaps in North America, in 200 years. The work was done completely by hand with period tools and in the manner of the 18th century. The building is 15 feet by 25 feet. The Cedar vertical logs are 13 feet in length. They sit 3 feet in the ground and are hand hewn on the front and back surfaces from ground level up, leaving the log round underground. All of the iron hinges and locks are hand forged. A group of volunteers built the church. It was a product of JQH Historic Preservation for Education,  a non-profit Missouri corporation.


I can’t believe they were building that church for 4 years and I didn’t know about it! I can’t believe it’s been there, open to the public for 9 more years and I didn’t know that! Pay Attention Kim!!


According to what I’ve read about the Lewis and Clark expedition, while they were in St Charles, the men attended a mass by a local priest. It’s quite possible that original little 1791 vertical log church may be where they went. Now, that’s some history!

For more information about the reconstruction of the church click the link below.  http://preservationjournal.org/properties/South/401-B/401B-South.html

For more information on Lewis and Clark in St Charles click the link below.  https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/lewisandclark/stc.htm

For more information about St Charles Borromeo Catholic Church history, click the link below                                                           http://www.borromeoparish.com/parishHistory.php


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