Past news 

February 7, 2008

The Only French Colonial Village Left in the United States

(February 7, 2008) – Washington, D.C. (February 7, 2008) - Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Ste. Genevieve, Missouri to its 2008 Dozen Distinctive Destinations. Since 2000, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has annually selected communities across the United States that offer cultural and recreational experiences different from the typical vacation destination. From dynamic downtowns and stunning architecture to cultural diversity and commitments to historic preservation, the selected destinations boast a richness of character and exude an authentic sense of place.

One hour south of St. Louis, is the thriving community of Ste. Genevieve, whose charm and ambience is rooted in its singular collection of 18th century French colonial structures-a concentration greater than anywhere else in the United States.

The town boasts more than 150 pre-1825 structures, many of which are open to the public, including gems such as The Bolduc House (1785), The Amoureaux House (1792), the Felix Vallé State Historic Site, built in 1818, and the 1806 Guibourd-Valle House with its Norman style trusses. Visitors can also tour the historic Memorial Cemetery where many of Ste. Genevieve's distinguished early inhabitants are buried.

"The treasure trove of French colonial life preserved in Ste. Genevieve provides an incomparable look into the pioneer spirit of the early settlers," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "History truly comes alive in this vital town and its Gallic charm beckons you to amble through the streets and journey back in time."

"Here in Ste. Genevieve we understand the value of our historic and cultural resources, both because they reflect our community's unique identity, and because of the importance of heritage tourism to the local economy," said mayor Richard Greminger." "This designation from the National Trust for Historic Preservation complements the Trust's active support of flood protection for Ste. Genevieve."

The well-preserved architecture of Ste. Genevieve is complemented by other area activities. Outdoor enthusiasts will find Ste. Genevieve and the surrounding area a great place for hiking, fishing and visiting a variety of state parks. Within an easy drive are Hawn State Park, Hickory Canyon Wildlife Refuge, Magnolia Hollow Conservation Area and Mark Twain National Forest. In addition, Ste. Genevieve's quiet streets turn lively with a wide variety of annual special events centered on the historic downtown area By celebrating the King's Ball in February, Garden Walk in May, a French Heritage Festival in June, Jour de Fete in August, and the Le Revillion and La Guignolee in December, Ste. Genevieve blends its rich Gallic history with its contemporary community.

The 2008 list of America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations includes:

Aiken, S.C.-Aiken seamlessly balances its varied 19th century heritage with cosmopolitan flair to offer all the necessary ingredients for a great vacation.

Apalachicola, Fla.- Apalachicola, an authentic coastal town renowned for its mouth-watering seafood and singular charm, features a waterfront dotted with fishing vessels, a downtown filled with eclectic shops and streets lined with historic buildings.

Columbus, Miss.-The birthplace of prize-winning playwright, Tennessee Williams, Columbus thrives on its extraordinary mix of Southern history, natural beauty and culture-with antebellum homes spared during the Civil War and historic tours showcasing the remarkable impact of the African American community to a revitalized Main Street that possesses great curb appeal.

Crested Butte, Colo.-One of the most charming vacation destinations in the Rockies, this former coal mining village is a recreational paradise that offers a rare mix of rugged beauty, history and adventure no matter the time of year.

Fort Davis, Texas-With no traffic lights or chain stores, Fort Davis is a gateway to an unspoiled terrain, offering an extraordinary blend of majestic scenery, abundant wildlife and cultural resources that bring to life the history of the 19th century western frontier.

Friday Harbor, Wash.-This small, well-preserved community in the San Juan Island chain is one square mile of perfection-an antidote to city life, ideal for outdoor adventurers, wildlife enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Portland, Ore.- Boasting both the charm of a small town community and the urban vitality of a big city, Portland, Oregon is a dynamic destination that offers an alluring mix of natural beauty, lively downtown entertainment and landmark historic attractions.

Portsmouth, N.H.-This elegant seaport, the nation's third oldest city, is one of the most culturally rich destinations in the country with its captivating blend of coastal beauty, historic buildings and lively downtown.

Red Wing, Minn.-Conveniently located one hour south of the Twin Cities, this handsome historic town features a treasure trove of architectural gems dating back to its beginnings as a riverfront trade point as well as an enviable natural environment.

Ste. Genevieve, Mo.-One hour south of St. Louis, Ste. Genevieve is the only French colonial village remaining in the United States, providing an unparalleled glimpse into the pioneer spirit of the early settlers.

San Juan Bautista, Calif.-Known as the "City of History" because of its exceptional collection of Spanish colonial architecture, San Juan Bautista showcases Old California like no other.

Wilmington, N.C.-From riverboats to battleships, grand old mansions to historic museums, splendid gardens to Civil War sites-Wilmington, North Carolina has a charm and style all its own that dates back nearly three centuries.

This is the ninth time the National Trust for Historic Preservation has announced a list of Dozen Distinctive Destinations. To date, there are 108 Distinctive Destinations located in 42 states throughout the country. To see a complete list, visit In each community, residents have taken forceful action to protect their town's character and sense of place. Whether by enacting a local preservation law to protect historic buildings against demolition, rewriting zoning codes to prevent commercial sprawl, removing regulatory barriers to downtown housing, making downtown areas more walkable, enacting design standards, or taking some other major step that demonstrates a strong commitment to their town, residents have worked hard to preserve the historic and scenic assets of their communities, with rewards that transcend town limits.