Vernacular Heritage: A 1920s House in Bellefontaine

patrimoine vernaculaire, maison à étage, vernacular heritage house wih two floors

–> Lire la version française de cet article

This weekend you can enjoy the 34th Heritage Days. Heritage is everywhere around us. It is sometimes very visible, as in the case of the Carbet church, classified as a historical monument since 1978 and beautifully restored. It is also often more discreet and leads us to pass by without even being aware of its presence. This is the one I want to talk to you about today!


How many of you have already spent time looking at this little house on the Bellefontaine highway? I am almost certain, however, that you have noticed the Torgiléo, an advanced expression of the liner architecture that is expressed within the modernist movement. Modernist architecture in the West Indies is a very interesting story, I hope to share it with you in a few posts some other time. In any case, to come back to our houses, both are witnesses of a way of thinking vernacular architecture.

I fell in love with this modest house from the 1920s when I discovered it by making the guide parcours du patrimoine Case-Pilote, Bellefontaine, Le Morne-Vert, Le Carbet, entre mer et pitons. [Case-Pilote, Bellefontaine, Le Morne-Vert, Le Carbet, between sea and peaks]. It is decayed, cracked, always closed when I pass by and probably doomed to disappear. It is not the most beautiful, the most impressive or the most amazing historically. She’s not exceptional, no. It is almost a century old and it is representative of a whole part of our history. When I see her, I like to imagine the life of her former occupants.

tanlistwa-patrimoine-case-bellefontaine.JPGat the beginning of the 20th century, with the rise of the village, those whose financial ease allows it, leave the hut of town to the profit of a more spacious space: the house on two floors. Like many houses built before 1950, my favourite house has foundations and a first floor of rubble. These partially cut stones covered with a coating make it more resistant to swell. The floor is a wooden cladding, less expensive, lighter and more flexible material that meets our seismic risks. The roof, nowadays made of sheet metal, because it is light and cheap, was certainly roof tiles in the past. These same characteristics are found in the simple huts.

tanlistwa-patrimoine-vernculaire-maison-bellefontaine - détail.JPGBut what I like most about this building is its French window on the first floor. This large two-sided opening made it easy to ventilate and enjoy a superb view of the sea. The presence of the wrought iron guard’s body testifies to the know-how of our craftsmen.

This weekend, if you are in French part of the world or in an eurepean countriy, check out the program of the Heritage Days, visit the sites that are open to you, discover new places and also take advantage of the opportunity to look at all this heritage that is open to you every step of the way, sometimes in small details. You’ll see, there are many more of them than we think!

(All in French)

Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th September visit your heritage! Here is the programme of the 34th Heritage Days (Martinique or Guadeloupe, and French Guyana)

Robin-Clerc Michèle, La ferronnerie d’art à la Martinique, CAUE de la MArtinique, 1987.

Pierre-Louis Jessica, Case-Pilote, Bellefontaine, Le Morne-Vert, Le Carbet, entre mer et pitons, H.C. édition, 2016.


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