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Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places

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Francois Vertefeuille House (north elevation)

Francois Vertefeuille House (construction detail)

Highway K, Town of Prairie du Chien, Crawford
Architects: unknown
Date of construction: circa 1810
The Francois Vertefeuille House, constructed in the French-Canadian manner called piece sur piece en coulisse, is one of the few surviving examples of this type of architecture in the United States. This log construction technique was documented as the distinctive method in which the pioneer French-Canadian residents of Prairie du Chien constructed their homes. Consequently this property is a fine representation of the French-Canadian cultural heritage in the United States.

The Francois Vertefeuille House was constructed by people and for people who were dependent on the fur trade for their existence. Therefore, it is a physical testimony to the powerful economic enticements to harvest otter, beaver and fox furs from the Great Lakes region and the upper Mississippi, a commercial enterprise that spurred French exploration in North America. Vertefeuille himself was from French-speaking Canada and moved to Prairie du Chien in 1809 to engage in the fur trade. Furthermore, the house is evidence of a second French culture, several generations removed from Canada, which flourished in the upper Mississippi Valley in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

The original house, constructed between 1810 and 1820, was composed of a single room on the first floor and a second floor loft. With the addition, constructed between 1820 and 1825 after Francois Vertefeuille acquired the house, one room was added to each floor. Both sections are constructed with hewn timbers in the piece sur piece en coulisse style. Unlike traditional notched corner construction, the Vertifeuille House also makes use of hewn log posts, notched with a continuous vertical groove. Shorter horizontal logs, with tongue-like mortises on the ends, are fitted into this groove to make a strong joint. Once common to French Canadian settlements, surviving examples like the Vertefeuille House are exceptionally rare today.

The Vertefeuille House is privately owned, please respect the privacy and rights of its owner.


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