Explore French Azilum
Museum Cabin / Welles Cabin
Our Museum Cabin is an authentic hand-hewn cabin that dates to the 1780's. This cabin was originally situated on the Welles Farm. It was donated and moved to French Azilum in 1962 by the Welles Family of Wyalusing. The roof and floors have been replaced, and the windows have come from the old Troy Academy in Troy, PA. In the Cabin there are several artifacts which have been discovered during archaeological digs at the Site, and a small display of what the interior of a simple cabin would have looked like. This is likely NOT an accurate representation of the decorations that the French nobility would have had in their cabins, however. There is also a 10 minute video DVD about the Site which will give you some history on it.
This stone-walled wine/root cellar is from the original settlement. The cellar was excavated in the winter of 1956-57 and several bottles, glassware and ironware were found. These articles have been placed in the Museum Cabin. The cellar was probably covered by one of the fifty or so dining rooms that were on the half-acre properties belonging to Azilum's original residents. Each half acre plot had a two-story log home, the dining room (which was separate from the house because that had become the fashion), a cook house separate from the house for risk of fire but attached to the dining room by a covered walkway, and outbuildings. These were built in the fall of 1793 and finished the following year, which is when most of the 250+ residents arrived.
The Herb Garden was relocated and replanted in 2018. It contains some of the herbs that the French would have commonly used both in cooking, and medicinally.
The Gazebo was built in 1992 in memory of Martha Hermann, curator of French Azilum from 1966 to 1985. Many of the displays were begun by her. A perfect place to have a wedding!
Although this was constructed in the 1980s, the French who settled at Azilum likely had similar 'follies' in their individual gardens. French Landscaping is known for its focus on symmetry as well as its use of decorative accents, called 'follies.' These could be small buildings, like the Gazebo, or designs like the Labyrinth. Take a walk along its graveled paths, and notice that it is made up of fleur de lis, the symbol of French royalty!
The Blacksmith Shop / Farm Tools
The Blacksmith Shop was originally the Carriage House. The building dates back to the late 1830's, just after the LaPorte House was built in 1836. We are in the process of restoring the Blacksmith Shop and hope to have it up and working, with live blacksmithing demonstrations and classes, in a year or two. Stay tuned!
The Smoke House
Used to smoke meats of all types, the Smoke House was essential in a time when refrigeration was unknown. Smoking was a good way to preserve meat, and the building kept the tasty food from predators.
The LaPorte House
The LaPorte House was built in 1836 by John LaPorte, son of Bartholomew LaPorte, one of the founders and principal settlers of Azilum. The architectural style has been called French Colonial, mostly due to the large verandah to the side and rear of the house. But there are elements of Federal and even Georgian styles throughout the house. The Palladian windows under the peak of the roof on each side might have been copied from those at Independence Hall in Philadelphia. As you wait on the front porch for your guide, note the bluestone beneath you. These are original and were quarried nearby. The house has many large windows, a sign of wealth. Hand-blown glass window panes had to have been brought upriver from Philadelphia and glazed into frames with white lead. You will also see a large millstone on the front lawn, believed to have been from the original village's gristmill.
The Wagon House/Barn
The Wagon House was used to house the farm equipment, horses, and hay. It has been said, apocryphally, that some of the timbers used to build this structure were from la Grande Maison, which was razed in 1848 .Although that is possible, given the date of the demolition of la Grande Maison, it seems unlikely. The Wagon House spinning and weaving implements, along with other artifactst.
As you exit the parking lot, look to your right. You will see a tall, white cemetery marker. Members of the LaPorte family are buried here, including John and Bartholomew.