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Trip November 1, 2002 - March 14, 2003 ~
East of the Mississippi
Vermilionvilleand Acadian Cultural Center (Lafayette, Louisiana) ~
Vermilionville and Acadian Cultural Center
1600 Surrey St.,
[Note: This report was not issued with Krausehouse Info-Research Solutions Research Trip to the United States, November 2002 - December 2002 By Eric Krause (Krause House Info-Research Solutions), December 30, 2002 (Revised April 1, 2003)]
This is a 23-acre living history, heritage and folk-life village which exists on the banks of the Vermilion River. Costumed craftspeople and interpreters knowledgeable in Acadian and Creole history and folklore occupy five original homes and 12 reproductions dating from 1790 to 1880.
Next door is the Acadian Cultural Centre which tells the story of the Acadian people and which was also visited:
"Narratives, photographes and artifacts illustrate the life and history of the Acadian people. Exhibits include models of first-, second-, and third-generation Acadian houses, and colourful wall-sized maps tracing certain aspects of Acadian heritage."
Correspondence on Vermilionville
(1) Krause to Myers
Eric Krause" To: "Myers, Susann" <Susann.Myers@pc.gc.ca>
<krausehouse@Kraus cc: "O'Shea, Bill" <Bill.OShea@pc.gc.r-a>
ehouse.ca> Subject: BOUSILLAGE
28/12/2002 12:39 PM Please respond to krausehouse
Just finished visiting the Vermillion Ville here in Lafayette, Louisiana - a Cajun-Creole Heritage Parks with both original and reproduced fabric. The one thing that is becoming quite clear is that bousillage was a common in-fill for "colombagel [as some here call them] constructions here until at least the mid 1850's, if not later.
I know that you have seen this but to refresh what I saw - bousillage [mixed mud or mud and "cured" Spanish moss] packed into a wall that has fairly large pointed sticks jambed horizontally between the uprights that act as shelves. The sticks are spaced c. 4 - 6 inches apart and the points are jammed into shallow cuts placed in the uprights.
The bousillage is packed level to the inside and outside faces of the uprights, and then it looks like thin coatings of a rendering are first applied (no laths) before everything is whitewashed, and whitewashed and whitewashed. If there was indeed an initial rendering, it went right over the uprights, as certainly did the whitewash. On the residential buildings (one is in very poor shape and they are "fixing" it up) that had original fabric, the uprights were thus completely hidden, but this may not have always been the case. For example, on the Armand Broussard House, the exterior framing members are exposed under the gallery portion, but this building (1790) has been "reworked" considerably to make it look like the handsome building it used to be and I'm not sure if they simply reproduced original evidence.
While the sides and rear of the buildings at Vermillion were shingled, etc, it appears that it was common to leave the whitewashed bousillage open to the elements when protected overhead by a gallery roof. No bevelled board finishes here as at the Acadian Village. They simply applied a chair rail so that those sitting outside on the porch did not harm the wall surface.
To cure Spanish moss - After soaking the moss for a long time in water, and then drying it, the grey covering becomes separated from the interior springy, black fibres. These fibres had multiple uses - in bousillage for walls and chimney stack construction, for mattresses and upholstery, etc.
There seems to a misconception here that the Cajuns (and Creoles? - I need to check this out) picked up the North American bousillage technique from the local Indians - but perhaps it was the curing of the Spanish moss only that they picked up, given the long history elsewhere from Newfoundland westerward of the bousillage technique?
(2) Myers to Krause
ca cc: Bill. O'Shea@pc.gc.ca
30/12/2002 11:12 AM Subject: Re: BOUSILLAGE
Thanks very much for this material on bousillage, from both Vermillion Village and Acadian Village in Lafayette, Louisiana. The evidence from original material still in place is tremendously valuable. I agree that it is a misconception that the bousillage technique was picked up from local Indian tribes. Acadians used bousillage in NS from early times, and it is very similar to techniques used in France. I seem to recall - I'd have to look it up - that Andr6e found bousillage in the Melanson settlement excavation that had been mixed with saltmarsh hay? I've seen no archaeological evidence of anything but gravel being used to mix the clay with here at Louisbourg - makes sense with no local sources of the kinds of saltmarsh hay being used by the Acadians and, with limited agriculture nearby, other hay would have been in demand for feeding and bedding livestock. The most similar local material here to Spanish moss fibre is perhaps eelgrass, but the salt content would likely make it unsuitable.
On the bevelled board siding on the Bernard and Castille houses at the Acadian Village, were you able to estimate the angle of the bevel? Thickness of boards? Nailing pattern? Looking forward to seeing photos of these buildings when you return!
And best wishes for a great remainder of the winter.
(3) Krause to Myers
Krause" To: <Susann.Myers@pc.gc.ca>
<krausehouse@Kraus cc: "O'Shea, Bill" <Bill.OShea@pc.gc.ca>
eHouse.ca> Subject: Re: BOUSILLAGE
02/01/2003 02:44 PM Please respond to krausehouse
Bevels sharp and not long (deep) on 1" thick or less boards. I will be writing the University of Louisiana for more re all of this as they seem to be the "experts" on this and I am hoping for drawings, etc. Will do this when I return in the Spring.