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Joseph Pierre Foucart


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© 2000-02 Steve Toye

   JOSEPH PIERRE FOUCART, a prominent architect and builder of Guthrie was the first of his profession to locate in Oklahoma. He received excellent training in this line of work, which, with his long years of practical experience and his superior natural ability, places him in a high rank among the architects in the territory.
   Mr. Foucart was born in Arlon, Belgium and is the son of John Pierre and Katherine (Mater) Foucart. He comes of a prominent French family, whose ancestry is traceable by the records back to the year of 1560, showing it to be an old patrician family of Curgies, near Valenciennes. His grandfather, Domnick Foucart, who was born in Valenciennes, France, and was an agriculturist, served under Napoleon in the French army, being the first non-commissioned officer of the One Hundred and Eighth Regiment on infantry. He served at Dresden in the Saxony-Russian campaign, and afterwards took part in the battle of Waterloo, where his brother was killed, (John, a captain of the Fourth Hussar). He was born in 1780 and died in 1864. John Pierre Foucart was born in Carignau, Ardennes, Frances, and was a farmer by occupation. Removing to Belgium, he died there in 1890, age seventy years. He married Katherine Mater, who was born in Beckerich, Belgium. Her father, Francois Joseph Mater, was born there in 1799, and was of French decent. Mrs. Foucart died in 1898, at the age of seventy years. Leaving five children, of whom Joseph Pierre Foucart being the oldest and the only one who located in the United States.
   Joseph P. Foucart was born, November 14, 1848, and received his early education at his native place. After completing his classical studies in the Royal Atheneum, at Arlon, he took a thorough course in civil engineering and architectural school of Ghen, from which he was graduated in 1865. For four years he was assistant engineer for a railroad in Belgium, and in 1869 went to the mines at Longwy, France, as a mining and civil engineer. At the breaking out of the Franco-Prussian was he entered the Tenth Regiment of Artillery, Fifth Battery, of the French army, and served in the Franco-Prussian war. At the battle of Sedah he was taken prisoner, but made his escape on the fifth day, returning to Longwy. He was there a non commissioned officer of the fortress until its surrender, January 23, 1871, when he was again taken prisoner. Three days later he made his escape to Belgium where he remained until March 1871. After the treaty of peace was signed, he rejoined his regiment and was honorably discharged.
   In 1872 J. P. Foucart superintended the building of the castle of Mr. Roussile, at Castle of Viere, Belgium, which was constructed at a cost of $400,000, and required two years' time. In 1875 he entered the service of Mr. Govaerts, the private architect of the king of Belgium and superintended the erection and arranging of the winter garden of the king at Lacken. He then superintended the building of the Grand Central hotel of Brussels, and in 1877-1878, the courthouse of Chartero, Belgium at a cost of $328,000. In 1870 he superintended the erection of Pouhon at Spa, a watering place of Belgium, the cost of which was $80,000. In 1880 he went to Paris as chief draftsman for drawing the details and finishing of the new city hall of Paris, which cost $60,000,000. Later he engaged in business for himself as architect and superintendent of building until 1888, when he came to America. After three months in Texas, he went to Kansas City, where he remained until the opening of Oklahoma, settling in Guthrie in June, 1889. He has since followed his profession here and has met with success, among the many buildings erected by him being the following: Alva Normal School; Williams Hall; Library Building; Agricultural and Mechanical College, at Stillwater; public school at Pawnee; the dormitory to the college at Kingfisher.
   Structures in Guthrie attributed to Foucart are: The Victor block (still standing) He had an office in the Victor block, on the corner of Harrison and First street; Lyon block (razed in 1967 for a city parking lot); DeFord Building (still standing); Bonfils Building (still standing); Gray Brothers Building (still standing); Royal Hotel (also razed in 1967); the Philip J. Heilman house (which is said to be the first brick home constructed in Oklahoma Territory); Harmon L. Miller House (still standing); the State Capitol building [still standing]. Perhaps the most famous Foucart building in Guthrie was Convention Hall which later was Guthrie City Hall. This famous building was razed in 1955. The Foucart building [still standing] where he also had an office in the top room of this building.
   J. P. Foucart was married in France to Henrietta Jacques, who was born and died there. Two children were born to them: Pierre Julian, a pharmacist in Paris, France; and Mrs. Marie Julia Toye, of St Louis. J. P. Foucart was again married in Paris in 1885, to Mary Philomene Jacquart Coen, widow of John Charles Jacquart. During his residence in France, Mr. Foucart was made Mason. He is also a member of the Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Uniform Rank, and the Order of Elks, of which he is secretary in the local lodge. He is a member of the sons of Hermann, the Guthrie Commercial Club and the Guthrie Gun Club. In politics he is a staunch Republican and was city engineer from August 1898 until August, 1899, when he resigned.

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