Even as conveyance legislation moves through the Missouri General Assembly, it’s not certain what structures will make up the Sainte Genevieve National Historical Park when it opens.
Multiple bills passed in the State Senate last week included the language that would allow the director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to convey three properties to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Parks Service that would help pave the way for the establishment of the Sainte Genevieve National Historical Park.
District 116 State Representative Dale Wright earlier this year introduced the original legislation that would allow the director to convey three Missouri State Parks properties — the Green Tree Tavern on St. Mary’s Road, the Felix Valle House State Historic Site and the Shaw House.
The latter two properties, located at the intersection of Second and Merchant streets, have been mainstays of the Missouri State Parks presence in Ste. Genevieve for decades.
That presence grew to include the Beauvais-Amoureux House, which was donated to the National Park Service; the Kern-Delassus House, which is in the process of being acquired by the National Park Service; and the Green Tree.
However, the state of Missouri is hearing from those interested in having the state maintain its presence in Ste. Genevieve.
Chris Collins, the first permanent superintendent of the Sainte Genevieve National Historical Park, said last week he believes Missouri State Parks may donate the Green Tree and retain ownership of the Felix Valle and Shaw houses.
He pointed out that the legislation grants the director the authority to sell, transfer, grant or release the properties.
The Missouri Parks Association, a non-profit. non-partisan citizens organization dedicated to the protection, enhancement and interpretation of Missouri State Parks and historic sites, has expressed its desire for the state to maintain a presence in Ste. Genevieve.
An article in the March edition of the Missouri Parks Association newsletter, Heritage, was headlined “Ste. Genevieve NHP Negotiations Raise Concern.”
The article recounted the long journey to establishing a national park in Ste. Genevieve, which it said will not take place officially until sufficient properties have been acquired by the National Park Service. …
Officials from the National Park Service and the state of Missouri said even with the conveyance of the Felix Valle House and all of the state’s properties in Ste. Genevieve, staff members from Missouri State Parks would work with National Park Service on interpretation and programs.
But the March article in Heritage said discussions by various Missouri Parks Association leaders with officials from the National Park Service, Missouri State Parks and Missouri Department of Natural Resources “revealed a strong consensus among those most knowledgeable about Ste. Genevieve and the state park system that it is critical for MSP to retain title and operate at least one significant historic building — likely the Felix Valle House, namesake of the state historic site — if a strong partnership with NPS is to have any chance of enduring.”
Collins said if Missouri State Parks retained and continued to operate the Felix Valle House, the state also likely would retain ownership of the 1818 Shaw House, where it has its administrative offices and gift shop.
“As a good partner,” Collins said, “we’re trying to back off and say, ‘Absolutely. Whatever you guys need, we totally honor that.’ We want to be a good partner.”
Collins said the National Park Service would be willing to take the Felix Valle House “but we’re not going to fight for it.”
He also agreed the Felix Valle House is an American-style house that would be different from the French Colonial vertical log structures the National Park Service has acquired thus far, but he said the story that will be told will include various periods throughout Ste. Genevieve’s history.
“It’s all connected,” Collins said. “We would definitely figure out how to make it fit.”
See complete story in the May 13 edition of the Herald.