The historic private mansion, built at the beginning of the 20th century, has been entirely restored and restructured by Chatillon Architectes to reflect its history, converting it into a prestigious venue for the Champagne houses Piper Heidsieck, Charles Heidsieck and Rare Champagne.
The Hotel Mignot was built between 1911 and 1913 by Parisian architect François-Adolphe Bocage for the grocery merchant Edouard Mignot. A fine example of Beaux-Arts architecture, this building is characterized by a great architectural and decorative eclecticism. Beyond the specific combinations of its construction period, certain elements rebuilt after the First World War, such as the large Art Deco stained glass window in the main staircase, contribute to this feeling. Many ornaments for the interior decorations were inspired by the decor of Fontainebleau and Versailles, during the Louis XV and Louis XVI periods, especially the Grand and Petit Trianon. The Hotel Mignot was built with respect to the classical codes of a private mansion with an interior layout hierarchical by level and by role: the lower ground floor was dedicated to services, the noble ground floor with the reception and state rooms, the upper floor for the staff. This family hotel was a high standing building in Reims for the period, combining modernism, comfort and classicism. In terms of history, the hotel was, for several months, the residence of General Eisenhower when Reims was recaptured by Allied forces in 1945 and until the end of the Second World War.
Chatillon Architectes, chosen after a competitive bidding process worked for three years on this 1,200 square meters building, which had been fragmented and partially altered by successive transformations and divisions. The profile of the agency and that of its founder, François Chatillon, convinced the owners of their ability to reveal the full potential of the building by reconciling the enhancement of the existing and contemporary use. The objective was to recover the private and intimate character of the building, in the spirit of a large family home rather than a hotel or a standard palace.
“The Eisenhower Residence has been handed down to us with much of its historical fabric. It is a bourgeois residence particularly representative of life in Reims at the beginning of the 20th century. Despite the time that has passed, everything was dormant, waiting for a rebirth, hidden under recent improvements. This is what guides the owners, whose request is both simple and complex: to revive this family home as close as possible to its original state”, says François Chatillon, founder of Chatillon Architectes.
A delicate work with the absolute respect of the existing
The work of Chatillon Architectes involved rediscovering the volumes and decor of the state rooms (Grand Salon, Petit Salon, smoking lounge and dining room) and restoring the master, guests and attic rooms (three suites and nine bedrooms), each with its own particular character in terms of view, exposure, decoration and atmosphere. “The uniqueness of the building lies in its history and tradition. The Eisenhower Residence has a very strong personality, which people will understand when they walk in. They will be able to say “I prefer to go into Mr. Jean’s bedroom, or Miss Marcelle’s bedroom”. They are welcomed into the family”, adds the architect.
The necessary modifications for the comfort and accessibility expected in a 21st century venue are integrated into the interstices of the building in a smooth and harmonious way. One of the challenges of the project was to find solutions to meet the requirements of a public-receiving facility (ERP) without the standard altering the volumes or contradicting the spirit of a private house. The historic elevator, considered the first residential elevator installed in Reims, has been restored and made operational again with its original fittings. Due to the fact that the preservation of this elevator was not allowing an adaptation for persons of reduced mobility, a new contemporary elevator was installed to guarantee a universal accessibility.
The project also provided for the creation of a zenithal glass roof in the center of the building, unifying the landings of the grand staircase. The skylight and the monumental canvas painted by Ateliers Meriguet runs along several floors in the stairwell and creates a connection between the different levels. In the center of the 4th floor, under the attic, Chatillon Architectes installed a glazed patio around which are articulated the walkways, a lounge area and four loft bedrooms. The project also made it possible to fit out the beautiful vaulted cellars and to create new tasting areas in an atmosphere that is both raw and subdued. On the garden level, guests are invited to enter a place formerly reserved for the staff, namely the service areas. These fresh and bright spaces now accommodate the breakfast room as well as a professional kitchen.
The fittings and furniture were carefully chosen to perfectly blend into this new setting, echoing the history of the place and bringing a warm and contemporary feel to this new reception area. Sarah Chatillon was in charge of advising on decoration, art purchases and furniture, whose training at the École du Louvre and experience in contemporary art galleries have forged a singular and spontaneous eye.
The landscaping project will preserve the plant rows on the boulevard and street, recreate a white flower bed behind the Eisenhower Residence, and relocate the walk-through green area with its original rose garden on the side. The creation of a summer pavilion in the garden represents a place to stop in the landscape walk.
A work carried out in collaboration with local craftsmen
The strong will of the owners was to trust local craftsmen, passionate and endowed with an exceptional know-how: the companies Varnerot for the stonework, Gourdon for the framework and the slate and zinc roofs, Mazingue for all the ironwork and contemporary locksmithing (bow window, summer pavilion, gates, glass roof and glazed patio), Art et Technique du Bois for the exterior woodwork and paneling, and Le Bâtiment Menuisier for parquet flooring and furnishing.
“From then on, the project consisted in bringing this beautiful house back to life, to “take care of it”, to return it to operation, to refurnish it, to bring it back to life without rushing, without constraint, with patience and finesse”, adds François Chatillon. As always with Chatillon Architectes, this project translates into delicate and proportionate contemporary interventions. The respect of the existing is prevailing and the objective is to develop the original work in detail and restraint, to adapt it to the present, inspired by a deep knowledge of the already existing.