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Jarrot Mansion State Historic Site tours on Dec. 2


The Jarrot Mansion State Historic Site in Cahokia is offering visitors a special holiday treat on Saturday, Dec. 2 with a chance to tour the beautiful home decorated for the holidays and learn the story of St. Nicholas.

St. Nicholas — or Père Noël, as he was known to the French — will visit Jarrot Mansion to greet families and share treats with children amid candlelight and traditional holiday decorations. The site is usually open by appointment only, but it will be open for free tours from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Dec. 2. St. Nicholas is scheduled to arrive at the house at 11:30 a.m. and will stay until 2 p.m.

Visitors are encouraged to donate a nonperishable food item for families in need. All donations will be distributed to Cahokia food pantries.

The mansion was built around 1810 by merchant Nicholas Jarrot, one of many French settlers who prospered in early Illinois. His home is one of the oldest brick buildings in Illinois.

St. Nicholas was a generous bishop in fourth century Turkey who felt sorry for the poor, hungry and those who didn’t have enough clothing to keep warm. This story was transformed into the tale of Santa Claus, called Father Christmas in England and Père Noël in France. The French tradition is for children to leave shoes filled with straw and carrots for Père Noël’s horse on Dec. 5, St. Nicholas Eve. Père Noël would visit and leave coins, toys, and cookies in the shoes.

The Jarrot Mansion State Historic Site is at 124 E. First St. in Cahokia. For more information, call the Cahokia Courthouse State Historic Site at 618-332-1782.

The Dec. 2 event is co-sponsored by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, which operates the site; the Jarrot Mansion Project Inc.; Cahokia Connections Church Alliance; and the Village of Cahokia. Joyeux Noël!

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