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Saint Donatus

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Driving northwest from Bellevue on US 52, one traverses hilly country to which older highways such as 52 respond. Some of the hills are wooded, others are grass covered or have crops. Some 10 miles from Bellevue the road gently dips down into a river valley, and one will encounter a mixture of contemporary service stations alongside what certainly has the appearance of ancient stone buildings. This is the Luxembourgian community of Saint Donatus. A group of Luxembourgers settled in the area in the 1850s, and in the small town itself and in the outlying country they built a number of stone houses, barns, and other outbuildings.

Along the commercial strip of the highway is a group of two-story gable-roofed (with jerkin ends) stone houses, most of which date from the late 1840s on through the 1860s. Accompanying these are several stone barns, smokehouses, and other outbuildings. The largest of these houses is the Gehlen house of 1848. Originally, the living quarters were on the second floor, and the ground floor was used to house animals.

At the center of town is a cross road that intersects with US 52. Take this road to the west approximately .3 miles. At this point one will come across a two-story stuccoed stone house. This is the Frank Stephen house, built in the middle to late 1850s. In plan it is of the central hall type, and externally it is essentially a very late continuation of the nineteenth-century Federal style.

Writing Credits

David Gebhard and Gerald Mansheim

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