Lieux de Mémoire Français en Louisiane: Hypolite Bordelon Home
The « Lieux de mémoire » (places of memory) is notion put forward by French historian Pierre Nora as a new way to conceptualize, understand, and connect with our past. In this spirit, we are launching a series to explore “lieux de mémoire français en Louisiane”, or places of French memory in Louisiana.
The historic Hypolite Bordelon Home is located in what is considered the northernmost of Louisiana’s francophone parishes, Avoyelles, and serves as a fantastic example of early Louisiana Creole architecture.
In the late 1700s, the first European inhabitants began to settle the area. Most French settlers came to Avoyelles to seek higher ground after the flood of 1780 which covered a significant portion of the neighboring Pointe Coupee parish. Others arrived from France via Canada, or traveled from New Orleans. Hypolite’s father, Valery Bordelon, was among the first group and migrated to Avoyelles in the 1790s. His grandfather, Gabriel Laurent, was the first Bordelon to arrive in Louisiana from directly France.
Official records state the house was built in 1820 by Hypolite, however more recent research suggests that it may have been built 30 years earlier by his father. In either case, the structure was originally located about 5 miles north of Marksville where it was occupied by descendants of the Bordelon family until 1941. Donated as a museum in 1978, moved to Marksville in 1979, and then placed on the National Register of Historic places in 1980, this modest building serves today as a small museum and as the official headquarters of the Marksville Chamber of Commerce.
Inside, the house is furnished with a variety of items that one would have typically found in an early Louisiana French Creole home. The structure is built of virgin pine and cypress, with the pieces held together with mostly pegs, not nails. Bousillage, a mixture of mud and moss provides insulation. Visit the Hypolite Bordelon home on weekdays between 10:00am -3:00pm, and get a glimpse of what life was like for the first French families in Avoyelles Parish.