It was a cold rainy grey January afternoon when we entered through the massive gates of a once elegant 19th Century house. It was a hotel particulier ( city home ) located about 2 hours north of Paris. We’d received a tip from a close friend that a descendant of French Marquis and Marquesa ( the last remaining inheritor in the bitter family feud that lasted over 70 years) wanted to sell the house and all it’s contents, including several pieces of antique furniture. The only problem was the house was left untouched for over 50 years. The prospects of such a find intrigued us so we’d made arrangements to see the house the next day. What we saw and experienced shook us to our very core.
Upon entry, the first thing we noticed was the bitter cold. The dark, damp interior chilled us to the bone. There was dust an inch think, cobwebs, broken floor boards, peeling 19th C. wallpaper and paint. Decay and abandon was everywhere we looked. Armed with nothing but flashlights and daylight streaming through the windows to help light our way, we continued guardedly on.
“No one has stepped in the place for over 50 years” said our friend creeping along beside us “so be careful. C’est tres dangereuse.”
This is a shot of the 19th Century hallstand in the main entry foyer. We bought this even though it needs some minor repair. Notice the beautiful tile work in the entrance. Typically late 19th Century C.1880.
The beautiful parquet flooring was all bent and broken from moisture from the ground. Documents, old papers, china, objets d’art lay strewn about everywhere. Furniture was everywhere, some still in it’s original place. Notice the beautiful gold gilt furniture ( which was sadly too far gone ) against the broken floor boards and the sad lamp and shade. I just shook my head in disbelief and wonderment. What insanity could possess any family to become so bitter as to let a beautiful home like this fall into such a deplorable state.
A staircase led to the second floor which had four bedrooms, a full bathroom and separate WC and a sewing room. Closets, armoires and chests of drawers were literally stuffed full of linens, old clothing, documents, and more. Even the bathroom cupboard was full of old prescriptions for the Marquis and his wife intact, from the turn of the Century.
But ours wasn’t to judge. We were in the enviable position of assessing the contents and purchasing whatever we wanted. And we purchased a lot. Amazingly enough, the furniture was all ( well most of it ) in good condition. Very dirty, covered in dust and cobwebs, but in good condition.
All the photos I took are with my iphone so the quality lacks. Hopefully you’ll be able to see past the rubble and dirt to recognize the grandeur that was once this lovely home.
This fireplace insert dates to the beginning of the 20th Century. C.1900. It was in perfect condition and one of the loveliest examples of Art Nouveau we’d seen in awhile. (It’s on our next container due to arrive shortly.)
Sadly this fabulous Hunters table did not make on our next container. It was located in the Dining room and had 12 matching chairs, 8 which were in decent condition.
This is an original early 20th Century dress form C.1920. We bought this too as these are very very rare and highly decorative (this was located on the second floor in one of the bedrooms.)
One of the three bedroom suites that we bought. Remarkably in excellent condition. C.1900.
A prayer bench that we bought along with everything else in this room. The Armoire you see behind was full of untouched clothing.
Another shot of the main floor dining room. Note the elegant wallpaper C.1900. Typical to the late 19th Century.
The mirror wasn’t for sale. Note the piles of old papers that were over 100 years old. Newspapers dating 1910 and older.
Empty cupboards in the library on the main floor. You can see how beautifully designed this house was and how elegant it must have been in its day.
Typically French mouldings of an elegant home. All C.1900
Dirty china just piled up for decades untouched. ( we didn’t buy any of this ) No gorgeous limoges in this pile.
A beautiful French commode from the late 1800’s. We bought this too. (located in the main entrance of the house)
A French Buffet Hutch we bought that went along with the dining table and chairs ( all in the dining room )
The attic. It was literally buried in dust and dirt. There were four servants rooms on this floor.
Larry in deep thought quietly considering if he’d like to buy the chandelier or not.
It took us three hours to complete the tour and assessment. Happily for us, much of the furniture was salvageable so we made an offer and bought everything that interested us. It was experience we’ll never forget. A peak into the insane world of a family gone mad with greed and grief.
Keep an eye out for pieces of this antique furniture to be available in our showroom at the Antique Warehouse.