Pierre Menard (1766-1844), a successful French Canadian businessman and fur trader, was presiding officer of the Illinois Territorial Legislature and from 1818 to 1822 served as the first lieutenant governor.
The two-story ca. 1815 home is an unusually fine example of French Creole-style architecture, built into gently sloping land at the bottom of a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. Among the notable features are a steep double-hipped roof and a galerie, or porch, that wraps the building’s front façade and gable ends. The ground level contains a small museum and an audiovisual room. The second, or principal, floor represents living spaces used by the Menard family. The large central entry hall is flanked by a parlor and master bedroom, with a dining room at its end. Two bedrooms, a Menard's office, and a nursery also occupy the floor.
Two of these rooms may have been formed by enclosing part of the galerie. All of the rooms contain antique furnishings, along with reproduction wall and floor treatments that reflect the lifestyle of an affluent businessman and gentleman farmer in early nineteenth-century Illinois. Behind the home, accessed by a covered walkway, is a stone kitchen with a “restored” brick baking oven. In 1970 the Home was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark.
On the grounds are a poteau sur solle (“post-on-sill”) privy, a reconstructed brick smokehouse, and a reproduction stone springhouse. The Home is located at the center of grounds landscaped with large trees and flowerbeds. A small historic herb and vegetable garden is located near the kitchen.
Visitors view living spaces on the principal floor. Staff offer interpretation of the rooms, emphasizing Menard-related artifacts. Staff members also interpret the outbuildings and herb gardens. A ground-floor orientation video and exhibits provide information on the Menard family and area history. Living quarters on the principal floor are accessible to persons with disabilities, rooms on the ground level are not.
The Pierre Menard Home hosts special events throughout the year. Contact the site for details.
The Pierre Menard home is a satellite of Fort Kaskaskia. Requests can be made for a tour of the home, but consideration is on a case-by-case basis usually for large groups only, we do not have the staf for time to accommodate every request such as every visitor. The site grounds are open sunrise to sunset. Visitors are free to explore the grounds.
There is an asphalt parking lot with two handicap parking spots in the upper parking lot that is east of the home and is accessed NW of Shawneetown Trail Road or north of East Kaskaskia St.
A concrete sidewalk leads west to the home but turns into a stone and mortar type walking path as you get closer to the home that is not as even as the concrete sidewalk but still accessible for visitors. The sidewalk stone path splits the closer you get to the home, to the left leads to the museum and front of the home that is not accessible, the middle path is accessible and leads the rear breezeway of the home and that is the disabled entry way into the inside of the home. A request will normally need to be made to open that entrance. To the right the path is handicap accessible and leads to two handicap accessible restrooms. All the paths narrow but the middle path and right path can still be navigated by disabled visitors. Access inside the home is not easy to navigate but can be done.
The museum in the home's basement has a couple of steps and is not accessible, there is also a small office in the basement and that is not accessible either.
There is a bench to sit on in the breezeway of the home. Where the accessible entrance is located.