HPTC Re-Creates Creole Architecture

Partnerships and Preservation

The Historic Preservation Training Center (HPTC) has been working for almost two years in partnership with Harpers Ferry Center (HFC), Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (JEFF) and local St. Louis partners to complete two exhibits within the new Visitor Center being constructed below the Gateway Arch. The HPTC was asked to bring historically accurate construction details, materials and techniques to these projects to enhance the visitor experience.

A replica stone house still under construction with yellow scaffolding around the exterior.
Rock House exhibit. Photo credit: NPS/Moss Rudley.
Two maintenance personnel stand on scaffolding to check the level of a load-bearing beam.
Creole cabin construction. Photo credit: NPS/Moss Rudley.

The Creole Cabin Exhibit (left) and Rock House Exhibit (right) were executed through a joint effort between the HPTC’s Masonry and Carpentry teams. This project used a cooperative approach to successfully create the design-build process used on these exhibits and brought tradespeople, architects, engineers and historians together to ensure that the details were accurate; the structures would meet code; and the craftworkers could execute the tasks.  

Like any journey, there were a few bumps along the way, however everyone who participated can be proud of what these exhibits have achieved.  In the words of Jessie Frances, local Creole Architecture expert and consultant to the project:

I thank you all, and in doing so I will be proud to bring my grandchildren to see it, knowing that is a true representation of the architecture” – Jessie Frances, Creole Architecture expert

Not only did this project demonstrate the potential of collaboration but brought great value beyond this to the workforce of HPTC in the experience. The learning and growth that occurred on this project cannot be valued in dollars but will play out in the lives of all those who participated. From the Project Leader who found himself in the middle of a large construction project and interacting with many different players that he normally does not have to work under to the crew members working within a confined space that made execution difficult and the youth that learned trade techniques such as log hewing and timber framing.

This is an effort we are all proud to be part of. For more information and pictures, read the Frederick News Post newspaper article and visit the HPTC Learning and Development Facebook page.


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