by Michael R. Allen
The Chatillon-DeMenil House, south St. Louis’ oldest house museum located at Cherokee Street and DeMenil Place, recently completed total replacement of its 44-year-old roof. Even fully-restored buildings need maintenance, and the Chatillon-DeMenil House the existing standing-seam metal roof roof dated to a 1966 restoration and was failing. Repairs were also needed for the porch columns on the rear of the house facing DeMenil House. But work had to start at the top, where water enters.
After successful fundraising, the Chatillon-DeMenil House Foundation had the roof replaced this fall. The replacement is a very bright red roof of standing-seam metal. (In a standing-seam metal roof, vertical pieces of metal are joined with raised seams.) The new roof is faithful to the type of roof put on the house in the late 19th century, after its original wooden shingles were removed.
The Chatillon-DeMenil House is actually the expanded farmhouse of hunter and guide Henri Chatillon, built in 1848. Dr. Nicholas DeMenil had the symmetrical Greek Revival style front section with its massive columned portico built between 1861 and 1863 (see illustration above). Architect Henry Pitcher designed the expansion. Currently the house is interpreted as the DeMenil residence with furnishings appropriate to the late 19th century, but its hybrid history is evident and connects the house to many historical events of 19th century St. Louis and the American West.
With the roof again water-tight, the Chatillon-DeMenil House is ready for additional repairs and restoration this year. The house is closed for January, but tours will resume next month. Meantime, the Chatillon-DeMenil Foundation continues to raise money for repairs and accept memberships (the basic membership is only $40). For more information, visit the Foundation’s website at www.demenil.org.