James Baker, La Médaille d’Or du Rayonnement Culturel


James Baker has been a key resource in the greater French, francophile and historic community for preserving, documenting and interpreting the unique French buildings and historic sites in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri for over 35 years.


The village of Ste. Genevieve survives today as a remarkable 18th century remnant of the architectural and cultural imprint left by the French in the mid-Mississippi River Valley. Baker’s tenure in the historic community as administrator of the Felix Vallé House State Historic Site allowed him to oversee the research, development, and expansion of the site to include six historic structures, including the rare poteauxen-terre Bauvais-Amoureux House, built ca. 1792.


Baker’s devotion to the interpretation of the French presence in Missouri has resulted in scores of lectures, exhibits and papers on the French colonial architecture, culture, families, businesses and preservation of Ste. Genevieve. He regularly presents programs for history conferences, students and meetings, while developing additional research. He directed the creation of the Ste. Genevieve Diorama, an impressive recreation of the village in miniature scale.


Jim has forged relationships with organizations from Canada to Louisiana, working with students, teachers, historians and French cultural groups such as the Alliance Française, Les Amis, Foundation for Restoration of Ste. Genevieve, the Historic New Orleans Collection and the Center for French Colonial Studies where he was a founding board member. He continues to welcome a wide range of visitors to Ste. Genevieve, including students at the annual Ste. Genevieve Historic Preservation Field School, officials from the office of the French Consul General of Chicago and even a visit by Prince Louis de Bourbon, Duc d’Anjou.


Most recently, he continues his “hands-on” interior restoration of his residence, the “Dorlac” House, an 1807 vertical-log home facing le grand champ of colonial Ste. Genevieve.