Enjoy the family life and culture of two French-Swiss families spanning over 50 years in early Switzerland County at the upcoming Rural Heritage Tour. The Switzerland County Historical Society and Musee de Venoge will host their first collaborative event on Saturday, October 13th from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday, October 14th from noon to 5:00 pm.
The tour will include Musee de Venoge (c. 1805-15) and the Thiebaud Farmstead (1817-1860). Come sample hearth and outdoor French style bake oven cooking, walk in a kitchen garden, talk with period reenactors and learn about their trades.
While the two sites were once considered ‘eye-sores’ they are both now listed on the National Register of Historic Sites and Places. Both were vacant properties that have been revitalized through historic preservation. The process of restoration and the research into the history of the houses is remarkable and will be shared during the tour.
Visitors may start the tour at either site. The Thiebaud Farmstead is located at 5147 East State Road 56, three miles west of Vevay, along the Ohio River. Venoge is located at 111 State Road 129, approximately one mile north of State Route 56 just west of Vevay. Admission is free, but donations are greatly appreciated.
The Rural Heritage Tour honors the rural heritage that founded Switzerland County and showcases two sites that show a high level of stewardship towards preserving rural architecture.
Venoge is a 30 acre tract of the Louis Gex-Oboussier farmstead, which formed a portion of the original 1802 French-Swiss Settlement. The Gex-Oboussier farmstead gives us a picture of early 19th century Switzerland County, Indiana, through an architecture that mirrors the lives of its inhabitants. The unique French architecture at Venoge with its timber frame poteaux-sur-sol and the brick noggin illustrates features that serve as ethnic markers, revealing the identity of the people who built the structure and where they came from. Venoge is named for the creek that bounds the property which in turn is named for a river in Switzerland.
The Thiebaud farmstead was settled in 1817 by Frederick and Harriet Thiebaud who emigrated from Switzerland with their eight children. Their youngest son, Justi, and his wife Mary became the second generation to live on the 165 acre farmstead that was part of southeast Indiana’s hay culture. A restored hay-press barn will eventually be part of the site. The site’s two-story frame vernacular Greek Revival house was built in the late 1850s over the stone cellar foundation of the original house.
The two sites had different goals with regard to restoration. Musee de Venoge does not have electricity, heat or water and uses heating and lighting sources common to 1815. The Thiebaud house is intended to be used throughout the year for a variety of functions, so modern conveniences have been utilized but are unobtrusive.
Come see for yourself the many possibilities that preservation offers. The fall season is a perfect time to enjoy the natural beauty of the area and a leisurely weekend in Switzerland County.
For further information visit www.switzcomuseums.org and www.venoge.org, or call the Switzerland County Historical Society at 812-427-3560 or Venoge at 812-593-5726.
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