Description of Historic Place
The Bélanger-Girardin House is a steep-roofed, one-and-a-half-storey, stone house, built in the early-18th century in the Québecois tradition. It includes an attached shed, added in the early 19th century. The house is located within the historic town of Beauport, just outside Québec City in the St. Lawrence River Valley. The house is set within expansive grassed grounds, adjacent to a convent, that give it a semi-rural flavour. The formal recognition consists of the house on its legal property.
Bélanger-Girardin House was designated a national historic site in 1982 because in both its structural evolution and its design, it is representative of early French Regime houses erected in the countryside near Québec City.
The Bélanger-Girardin house is a rare surviving example of a stone house from the early part of the French regime. It is located in Beauport, one of the first seigneuries of New France.
The present house was erected in two stages (ca. 1722-27 and ca. 1735), adding to and eventually replacing a wood house built by the first settler, Nicholas Bellanger, ca. 1673. The 1735 work was carried out by a later owner, stonemason Jean Marcou. The remains of the original wood structure are visible only in the interior and west walls of the present stone house. Cléophas Girardin was a later occupant of the house.
The Bélanger-Girardin house is typical of rural Quebec domestic architecture of the early 18th century in its form, materials, proportions, openings and interior plan. It represents the transfer of traditional domestic forms and construction methods from northern France to the St. Lawrence Valley. The use of plaster roughcast to cover the stone represents the adaptation of familiar forms and methods to the new climate and geography of New France.
Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minute, November 18, 1982.
Key elements which relate to the heritage value of Bélanger-Girardin House include:
- features typical of domestic construction during the early stages of the French regime, including, its small dimensions, its thick stone walls partially covered with roughcast, the massive proportions and steep slope of its roof, and the number and arrangement of openings;
- its simple, rectangular, one-and-a-half-storey form, set close to the ground;
- its steep, gabled roof with a chimney at either end and no overhang at eave level;
- the small number of openings, their proximity to ground level, and their functional, non-symmetrical placement;
- its method of construction, in which walls are constructed of fieldstone and covered with lime roughcast to protect against cold and humidity;
- traces of the 1673 house built by Nicholas Bellanger, evident on the interior wall and the west gable wall;
- its surviving original interior plan, consisting of two interior rooms at ground level, separated by a stone, load-bearing, interior wall, and two attic rooms reached by an open staircase;
- its surviving original interior features, including hearths in the end-walls of each of the ground-floor rooms.