The Nicholas Jarrot Mansion is a historic house built in the Federal style in 1807-1810. It is located at 124 East First Street in Cahokia, Illinois and is operated as an inactive historic site by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (IHPA). It is a State Historic Site, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and became a National Historic Landmark in 2001.
Nicholas Jarrot (1764-1820) was a fur trader
, lawyer, county judge, businessman, and developer who owned 25,000 acres (100 km²) of land at the peak of his success. He tried to lead and manage the transition of his community, citizens of the French colony of Louisiana
, as it was transformed in the late 1700s and early 1800s into what became known as the American Bottom
. The east bank of the Mississippi River
, including what is now southwestern Illinois
, had been ceded to the United States by the Treaty of Paris
As a pro-American merchant with business ties to the new republic, Jarrot was recommended to the westward-bound explorer Meriwether Lewis in 1803. Lewis met Jarrot in December of that year and won the merchant's permission to encamp his men on one of Jarrot's properties, a riverfront tract across from the mouth of the Missouri River. This winter encampment of 1803-1804 became Camp Dubois, the shakedown site of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
The mansion yesterday
As a reflection of his business success and ability to fit in with the incoming English-speaking frontiersmen, Jarrot decided to construct an American-style house. The Jarrot Mansion was built to resemble the houses of successful families on the U.S. East Coast
, rather than the French Colonial
style that continued to be followed by the French-speaking community leaders in places like Sainte Genevieve, Missouri
The Jarrot Mansion was built by masons who were not used to working with bricks, and so its windows are slightly askew and the facade of the house is asymmetrical. The house and its facade have an appealing quirkyness, and appear to be more vernacular than the owner may have wished. The house was sturdily built, however, and survived the major earthquakes of 1811-1812 epicentered at New Madrid, Missouri.
The mansion complex includes a spring house built of cut limestone. Spring houses like that of the Jarrot Mansion contained tubs of cool water in which foodstuffs were protected from spoilage for short periods of time.
The mansion today
The Jarrot Mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. A predecessor agency to the IHPA acquired the house in 1980. The house was elevated to the rank of a National Historic Landmark
in 2001. As of 2008
, the Mansion is a largely inactive historic site. The IHPA keeps it closed to the public except for periodic seasonal open-house festivals
The Jarrot Mansion is located less than one-half mile from the Cahokia Courthouse State Historic Site, where Jarrot served as judge of St. Clair County.