The Fix house once stood around the corner from Sterling State Park

One of Monroe’s most interesting historic structures no longer exists, but its history dates back to the settlers who migrated from New France to the shores of Lake Erie.

The Fix House was originally located on land in what is now the northwest corner of Sterling State Park and was deeded before the War of 1812.

Nearly 30 years earlier, Francis Navarre had settled in this area and worked to secure a land deal with the Potawatomi tribe. Documentation resulting from Navarre’s agreement with several native leaders (to create the area known as Frenchtown) was written in his language of his heritage – French. It was this settlement of French-speaking individuals from the native land and areas of New France (in the case of Navarre – Sandwich, Essex, Ontario, Canada) that had an influence on the primitive architecture of dwellings in areas now considered part of the Monroe, Michigan ZIP Codes.

Joseph Fix emigrated with his family in 1828 from the Alsace-Lorraine region of France (created in 1871 by Germany after the Franco-Prussian War and returned to France in 1918 during World War I). He died a year later and his widow, Ann, purchased the property on which the Fix House stood in 1832. Ann and her son George began constructing buildings on the property, establishing gardens, planting crops and setting up spaces for animal production and other animals. – related care. Many of these early buildings were meant to be log structures.

However, it was the design and construction of the Fix House itself in 1853 that paid homage to the family’s French-Canadian family heritage by building what is considered by architectural historians to be a vernacular cottage. French Canadian.

According to renowned architectural historian Ramsay Traquair, who was Macdonald Professor of Architecture at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, the vernacular French-Canadian cottage originated from the peasant settlers who came to colonize New France and brought with them simple but thoughtful methods. of a medieval building from the 17th and 18th centuries.

This shows vernacular French-Canadian cottage design as described by author Ramsay Traquair in 1926. Built in 1853, the Fix House was an example of design in the Monroe area and stood in the northwest corner of what is now Sterling State Park until 1980. Supplied photo

The use of brick and stone in French-Canadian vernacular cottages—to adapt to the harsh winters and harsh conditions of many parts of New France—differed from the widespread use of wood and planks. wink by the native French immigrants who migrated further south to the United States in New France. England to build models of French vernacular cottages in what is now Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The Fix House measured 24 by 30 feet and was built of brick on a limestone foundation. This main section had a central entrance flanked by two windows. Later additions were added to the rear and side of the main structure (c. 1870). George Fix lived in the house until his death in 1898. His son, Leanus, inherited the house and farm – living there until his death in 1960. The State of Michigan acquired the house in 1966 in addition to Sterling State Park, and it received National Register of Historic Places designation in 1971. However, the poor condition of the house led authorities to demolish the house in 1980, and it was removed from the National Register in 1981.

Traquair further described the attributes of vernacular French-Canadian cottage design. For example, Traquair showed how the slope of the roof of a vernacular French-Canadian chalet provides both aesthetic and practical benefits. “…the plane retains little snow in winter and defines the dimensions of the structure,” adds Traquair. “They form a real natural style, simple and devoid perhaps of the graces of learned ornamentation, but nevertheless well constructed, well suited to their purpose, and with the charm that always accompanies direct and honest work.”

Tom Adamich is president of the Visiting Librarian Service, a business he has operated since 1993. He is also a project archivist for the Greening Nursery Company and Family Archives.

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