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Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion

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Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion - Page Text Content

BC: The Back Entrance of the DeMenil Addition featuring the Porthole Window

FC: The Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion

1: The Chatillon-De Menil Mansion of Saint Louis, Missouri Photo Essay by Anna GREEN Exploring Museum Professions 460.601.82 25 October 2011

2: The Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion is a museum within a historic building in the city of Saint Louis, Missouri. It shows the life style and culture of French-Americans in St. Louis during the 1800's

3: Due to the museum being so small, there are only two staff members: Kevin O'Neill (Former Director and current Facilities Director) and Lynn Josse (Acting Director). Volunteer docents help out when they can, but most of the education, exhibit, guest services, and events work is done by the Facilities Director, or is handled by a contracted source.

5: Guests | This is the main enterance to the Chatillon-DeMenil House which now boarders an entrance to Highway 55. To enter the house one must walk around from the back and then ring the bell so the docent will open the door. This facade was orginally build by the architects hired by the DeMenils when they added on to the home after buying it from the Chatillons. The Porch was recently restored. While exhibit design and/or a conservator might aide in this process in a larger museum working on an exhibit, a designer and architect, Ralph Wafer was contracted for the rehabilitation.

6: Chatillon Parlor/ DeMenil Library | This room was the parlor for the Chatillons and the library for the DeMenils after the addition was added. The room was arranged by the Facilities Director (acting as the exhibit designer). In the top picture, one can see a black cloth draping the painting. The house was set to be in a state of mourning during the month of October to demonstrate how a home would be presented during a period of mourning in the 1800's. The addition of the coverings were again arranged by the Facilities Director. The room itself was restored by Gerhard Kramer (contracted archetect/conservator) and funded by the Jordan Charitible Foundation.

8: Dining Room mirror covered with black cloth for mourning | This room was originally part of the kitchen in the Chatillon house and became the formal dining room for the DeMenils. The mourning decorations were again set by the Facilities Manager, Kevin O'Neill. The room was restored by Gerhard Kramer again as well and was funded by a private donor. The lighting (including the chandelier pictured to the left and the lighting inside the shelving unit pictured to the right) was installed and is maintained by a contracted electrician rather than a lighting department (which would most likely do the work in a large museum). | Chandelier above the dining room table.

9: Dining Room table set with mourning cakes and mourning china

10: Above: In the Chatillon Entry Hallway - Photo of Henri Chatillon and Panting of Henri's First Wife, Bear Robe. | Right: In the Chatillon Entry Hallway looking out onto the DeMenil addition through a porthole used to pay urchins for chores without having to look at them (as they were below the DeMenil's social standing.

11: The Chatillon Entry Hallway and DeMenil Addition | This area was very tight as it used to be part of what was a much smaller house, but in this hallway is one of the most precious objects found while rennovating the house. The painting is the only image the museum has of Henri Chatillon's first wife, Bear Robe. This painting was found by the contracted electrician in the rafters in the attic (apparently hidden when Henri remarried). It was restored possibly by a conservator from the St. Louis Art Museum or Missouri History Museum (as the work would have been outsourced). The hallway was again designed and set by the facilities director.

12: The DeMenil Entry Hallway | There are two entry hallways to this house because the DeMenils felt the original home was too rustic for their social status. This is the newer entryway that was added on and features elements of the Greek Revival, such as the chandelier with Venus riding in a clam shell. This is the entrance through which one enters the museum. This area was restored by contracted architect and conservator, Gerhard Kramer. On the door you can see part of the security system: a motion sensor and multiple locks. This is as far as the security department goes however as this is all the budget allows.

14: Above: Portrait of Marie-Therese Bourgeois Chouteau, co-founder of St. Louis, rests on the easel. | Left: The Square Grand Piano prepared to receive a coffin for a viewing or wake.

15: DeMenil Formal Parlor | This is where the Facilities Director/Docent really became the Education Department. Not only was the room set up for mourning (including the piano ready to receive a coffin for a wake), it also tells the story of the founding of St. Louis. I learned from our docent that the great-grandmother of Madame DeMenil was the co-founder of St. Louis along with Pierre Laclede (who I also learned was her common law husband - something not found in most history books). | Upper Left: A lamp used to refract more light for reading at night.

16: The Ladies' Withdrawing Room | This is the drawing room in the DeMenil home. It is clearly set up for a viewing with a real coffin set up on a special table. While the other mourning decorations were set by the Facilities Director, the coffin was set by a real undertaker. In a larger museum, this might be overseen by the special events department.

18: This room belonged to Nicholas DeMenil and was quite luxurious (it contained a confessional booth style bathtub as seen in the two pictures on the right). Once again we see that the room is prepared for mourning as the mirror on the shaving stand has been covered with black by the Facilities Director (who also arranged the room). The funding for this room was provided by Anheuser-Busch Inc. They had their own contracted conservators and architects come in to work on the room.

19: Nicholas DeMenil's Room

20: Nicholas DeMenil's Room Continued

21: The rug in this room is special because it was woven in a design from the period by a woman named Penelope Strausser, who is completely blind. She volunteered the work for the museum to have a period rug in the master of the estate's room. The plaque on the wall was most likely contracted out to an engraver. In a large museum, this might be done in-house by the exhibit or production staff.

22: The Attic/Servants' Quarters | The attic has been turned into a small gallery of items from the St. Louis Worlds Fair. This is relevant as Nicholas DeMenil's son was the Director of the Fair. The exhibit was donated by the Meisel/Meisel McBride family. The World's Fair Society St. Louis helped the Facilities Director set up the exhibit. The picture on the left is Joseph Meisel (the collector) and the one of the right is of some of the display. The cases were donations. This area is secured by a lock on the door leading into the attic (which will be seen later).

23: The 1904 World's Fair

24: Above: The rafters where the painting of Bear Robe was found (also storage for objects and maintenance) | Below: More object storage in the basement, including the loom that wove the carpet in Nicholas DeMenil's room

25: Storage | The docent was kind enough to show me what was behind some closed doors which lead to the storage facilities of the museum. Since it was a house, it was nothing spectacular (like one might find in a large museum), but rather the attic and the basement. The basement also housed the gift shop which was operated by our docent/Facilities Manager. Unfortunately my pictures of that area did not turn out, but it was very small and tight with items sold on consignment it seemed.

26: Security | Unfortunately due to insufficient funds, the museum, while wanting to have a live-in or night watchman, cannot afford it. Therefore these three pictures you see on the left represent the security department. The picture on the top right is the locked door to the attic and the picture on the top left is a very old motion sensor that is connected to ADT security. The picture on the bottom is the fire security system - the sensor melts in a fire triggering an alarm. The doecent told me most do not work and they are so old that the style is not made any longer.

27: Guests

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  • By: Anna G.
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  • Title: Chatillon-DeMenil Mansion
  • Photo Essay on the Chatillon DeMenil Mansion
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