REPLICATION OF FORT ST. JEAN BAPTISTE
Fort St. Jean Baptiste de Natchitoches was a strategic outpost, established in 1716, that prevented the Spaniards, in Mexico, from advancing further into French Louisiana. The Fort continued to serve this vital function until the entire French colony west of the Mississippi, with New Orleans and the Isle of Orleans on the east bank, was ceded to Spain in 1762, following France’s defeat by England in the French and Indian War. It was finally abandoned soon after the 1803 Louisiana Purchase when the United States built Fort Claiborne nearby.
The reconstruction of the Fort is based on a carefully drawn plan made in 1733 by the French architect/engineer Ignace Francois Broutin after he visited the Fort in August 1732 and at that time had several new buildings built; including a long barracks building, a small warehouse and a house for the warehouse keeper.
Careful research was conducted in the archives of France and Spain on colonial fortification construction methods and working from Broutin’s plan and description of the Fort, an authentic reconstruction was accomplished. Fort St. Jean Baptiste was replicated utilizing many of those same construction methods, adapting to some modern measures, such as treated lumber, concealed fasteners, and concrete footings, to assure a longer life. It serves as an important era in Louisiana’s colonial history, demonstrating the fortification construction and life style of a Louisiana frontier settlement.