The story of a shared passion… Villa Servais will become a place of life, history, meetings.
Since its construction in 1847, Villa Servais has played an important role in the history of Halle and its inhabitants. When cellist and composer François Servais commissioned famous architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaar to design a neo-Palladian villa, Halle was immediately put on the world map. The imposing villa served as a private residence, guest house and was the cultural meeting place for many musicians, poets and artists.
After a turbulent history, the villa became vacant in 1981. Many Hallois and musicians were sad to see the deterioration of this heritage. After a failed attempt by a project developer to transform it into office space, Maud Leschevin and Geert De Poorter decided in 2016 to make this project their life’s work.
“Our idea was actually to restore a historic building in France after we retired,” explains Geert. “But when we had the opportunity to buy Villa Servais, we were able to realize this dream in our own city of Halle and before our retirement. » The family has a musical sense. Geert played tenor tuba in the Sint-Martinus van Halle Fanfare and the Servais Academy for around ten years. Maud and Enora both took up the piano.
The restoration of Villa Servais is not only the renovation of a historic building, but also of the rich history that accompanies it. In the imposing Villa with a breathtaking view of Halle, musical sounds, the architecture of Jean-Pierre Cluysenaar, the sculpture of Cyprien Godebskiz and the murals coexist in the different spaces harmoniously together.
Geert took care of the numerous permits, studies, quotes and financial aspects during the restoration and followed the construction site for 24 months and Maud took care of the decoration and marketing part.
The restoration project lasted five years and was crowned with success thanks to intensive consultation with the teams of the Real Estate Heritage Agency, and the ASBL Servais, the Servais expert Peter François, monument guardian, the services of the city, the Hélon architectural firm, the entrepreneurs, the former residents of Villa Servais, the artists, the craftsmen. During these five years, Hallois, neighbors, faithful, friends and family were able to follow the adventure during one or another (dance) concert in the Villa, or via the numerous posts on Facebook and Instagram, and via various flyers and communication in the press. The exchange and feedback encouraged the family not to give up during these five years.
The result of the restoration means a return to the initial state of the 19th century, the period of François Servais. The family will move to the 2nd floor, there is a luxurious guest house which exudes the cosmopolitan atmosphere of the past and the concert hall once again constitutes the central point of human and artistic encounters.
A unique experience…
The family favored local entrepreneurs and crafts wherever possible. “We are proud that the canvas paintings were meticulously restored in the Hallois workshop of Linda Smismans, the wall paintings and imitation marbles were skillfully restored by Els Creytens and Monja Dupocheel. The interior carpentry was carried out by Hallois Luc Merckx, magnificently restored,” according to the family.
Geert and Maud have a passion for art and history and have been enchanted by the charm of old houses during their numerous travels throughout Scotland, England and Brittany.
The high ceilings, the comfortable, upholstered seats near a cozy fireplace, the many nods to history, the beautiful Art Nouveau architecture of Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the famous English drawings of William Morris, who is known as the founder of the fantasy genre and who lived at the same time as François Servais.
Their numerous travels inspired Maud & Geert, after purchasing the Villa, to develop the style of the Villa with SDESIGN which developed a unique style for the eight guest rooms. Each room has its own identity. Maud took advantage of the five years of preparation for the restoration project to train intensively in the filling and leaf gilding of old objects, giving them new life. His choice fell on an English interior and fabric designer who reinterprets William Morris velvet and jacquard fabrics and wallpapers to give each room a unique look. “Each element was developed according to the theme of the piece,” explains Maud. “From the headboard to the seats, including the pouf and the cushions, everything is perfectly coordinated. Through her passion for craftsmanship, she wanted to create a unique experience that gives you the opportunity to discover exceptional talents from our region. Maud upholsters the seats himself. Given the large number of objects to wallpaper, she is assisted by Mie Luttens from S Toffe Stoelet and Sophie Desmet from Atelier Fabriq.
When you book a room at Villa Servais, you will enjoy a unique experience. In addition to the uniquely styled furniture, Véronique Van Der Meersche of Lina Luxe developed linen bed and bath linen with a ‘honeycomb’ texture embroidered with the Villa’s monogram especially for the guest house. In addition, the room fragrance and toiletries are tailor-made by a Belgian ‘nose’, Romain Pantoutier of Nez Zen. Enjoy a cup of tea in the cozy lounge and drink from the handmade porcelain by Belgian Ceramist Kim Verbeek.
The restoration of Villa Servais is the result of a unique collaboration and reflects a perfect balance between numerous crafts, artists and a rich history.
A passion project of a family dedicated to Halle and wanting to preserve and revive the rich history of Villa Servais. This in modern comfort while respecting the original character of the 19th century.