On June 30, 2014 the First Presbyterian Church began a Capital Campaign Challenge Grant in cooperation with the Jeffris Family Foundation. The matching grant requires the church to raise $200,000 before June 30, 2017 at which time an award of $100,000 (one hundred thousand) will be given by the Jeffris Foundation.
This page will include updates including schedule of funding events and the ongoing amount raised for restoration.
Please check out our new webpage devoted exclusively for the Restoration Project:
Browse the site and sign our guestbook. We look forward to reading your comments.
A Brief History of "The Silversmith's" House
The Silversmith’s House, built before 1820 by Antoine Oneille, is a significant historic resource and important as the home and business headquarters of one of the few artisan and manufacturing operations in early nineteenth century Ste. Genevieve, that of a silversmith. As a French Canadian craftsman in the Louisiana Territory, the final chapter of the life, work, and migration of Antoine Oneille through the French territory took place in this house located on South Main Street.
The American frame house was both residence and work place for a business heavily tied to the fur trade of the time. Oneille, his wife, and six children lived in this small house. The diminishing demand for fur in Europe coincided with the decline of Oneille’s silver production.
An in-depth study on the Indian silver trade named Oneille as one of seventeen major “makers of fine silver” who are known today. Oneille's silver is marked distinctly by a recessed rectangle with the raised letters "AO". This mark is found on each piece of his work. Every silversmith "signed" his/her work with a Maker's Mark.
Oneille traveled the road of many French Canadians from Quebec to Detroit around 1797 to Vincennes, Indiana in 1803 and finally to Ste. Genevieve. He died in April 1825 and is buried in Ste. Genevieve.
No image remains to show us the Oneille house in the 19th century. The earliest photos available were captured in church photos showing all or part of the side of the Oneille house. The house, an American frame structure, was originally two story and historical investigators surmise the Oneille family may have lived in the upper portion while the lower floor was used as for the silversmithing business. No documents verify or reject this notion.
The house was severely damaged in a fire in 1982. The upper floor was partially removed at which time it was altered to appears as a French Creole style.
The earliest photo of the house. Courtesy of Pat Parker.
The Oneille house in 1917.
"The Silversmith's" House Renovated
An artist's rendition of the Oneille house when renovation is completed in 2018.
A conceptual drawing of the front hall as it will look following renovation. A display will honor the life and work of Antoine Oneille, "The Silversmith", showing images of his known works, a genealogy of his family, and historical documents.