From demolition to reconstruction and repurposing

All the spaces of Villa Servais were rearranged in their original setting during the restoration.
Thus, the Music Room has returned to its original space on the ground floor. Luxurious guest accommodation is being developed on the first and second floors, respecting the original spaces. This B&B has eight breathtaking rooms equipped with every comfort. Some of them overlook the Gothic Saint-Martin basilica. Other rooms have a “phenomenal” view of the Art Deco Saint Roch church or the lime tree that François Servais loved so much.
On the second floor, the roof trusses were discovered, under which now stood the private home of Maud, Geert, her daughter Enora and Gribouille, the house cat. A furniture and picture restoration workshop will be built in the cellar, where cooking was formerly done.

Restoration of the villa with attention to detail

At Villa Servais, the restoration work was carried out with great precision. The semicircular arches between the entrance hall and the music room have been restored and the doors on the front facade have also been given a second life thanks to the carpenter Karel Perdu. Once the many layers of paint were removed, the original color, particularly “bronzine” green, was restored. The wooden windows have been completely renewed based on the original model.
Much of the music room’s original moldings and ceiling have been retained and have been meticulously restored. The craftsmen at Coremans Plaster Decorations of Hoboken were asked to reproduce the molds of the original moldings in the workshop. These were made using a technique called “punishment”: the plaster is applied layer by layer, as in 1847. The bone glue was replaced by silicone.
The Japanese murals have been completely restored. Firstly, it was a matter of consolidating the lime plaster, removing overpainting, remnants of wallpaper and old fillings. This was followed by cleaning and fixing the paint coat and the wall was protected with Japanese paper. Ultimately, this was removed and all the necessary adjustments could be made in detail.
A typical element of Villa Servais are the marble and natural stone fireplaces. They often appear in common areas and in some guest rooms. During the restoration, the six beautiful fireplaces were preserved and restored. Four of them will be operational again.

The interior wooden doors were all restored in the Hallois workshop of Luc Merckx. He also restored the wooden wall of the first floor library. The exterior doors have been renovated and fitted with new corrugated drawn glass. The interior coating was made with lime plaster. The facade also received a new coat of lime plaster, which was then repainted in the presumed original color, specifically ocher yellow. A typical feature of the 19th century Neo-Palladian style.

In the downstairs music room, the original cassette floor has been restored. Here, great attention was paid to the restoration of the compass roses at the different angles and to the motif of the point of Hungary.
The hollow spaces in the authentic floors of the villa were blown by Créations Bois CVBA with bio-ecological paper flakes, which ensures natural thermal and sound insulation. A major ecological breakthrough to optimize the acoustics of the concert hall and the B&B’s guest rooms.
The old staircase of the villa dates from the renovation in 1898 and was renovated by the Demünster Escaliers team. The new staircase is based on other projects by architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaar, dating from the period 1845-50. This staircase is finished in oak.
The large reception panels were made from a fancy light green veined marble. The whole was surrounded by a secondary marble border, similar to Jaune Fleuri. Halloise restorers Monja Duponcheel Viva Pintura and Els Creytens de Profil managed to remove the underlying layer before it was repainted in 1898 when Villa Servais was a two-family house. A large part could be inlaid with the background color, for the rest an in-depth reconstruction was necessary.
The restoration and reconstruction of the imitation marbles in ‘the small living room’ (today the reception room) and ‘dining room’ (today the kitchen) was also carried out meticulously. In two rooms, the old imitations of marble which were painted in oil are being completely restored. In the kitchen, we see a wainscoting of dark green marble panels (similar to Vert de Mer) with a Napoleon border. Just above, large Violet Breccia panels surrounded by a white marble border (White Veined).

There is music in the renovation… also outside

Inside the villa everything has been restored with attention to detail, but also on the facade a real monk’s work has been carried out. Contractor Vandendorpe has meticulously restored the symmetry of the original architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaar. The wing annex, which was added in the 1950s and served as toilets for the seven gendarmerie families, has been removed.
The continued reconstruction of the east and west facades of Villa Servais means that certain Hainaut blue stone window sills will be reused and other parts will be renewed according to the pattern of the original sills. The new window frame cornerstones were made from French ‘Massangis’ stone. Each door or window frame was restored by stonemason Wim Van Roye.
The terracotta sculptures on the facade, by sculptor Godebski, have been meticulously treated by restorer Delphine Vandevoorde. Rossini’s bas-relief was restored and Meyerbeer’s was entirely reproduced by Linda Temmink . This happened after intensive studies at Spa, where Servais and Meyerbeer met. The five works: the muse of poetry, the muse of music, the cello, Beethoven and an allegory of the arts have been restored, as well as the garlands under the sculptures.

The roof of Villa Servais was in very poor condition. Fortunately, the original roof trusses were able to be preserved. You can enjoy it in the Liszt and Joseph guest rooms. Extensive roofing work, insulation work and stability work must restore the strength of the roof truss for the future. The old asbestos slates from the 1980s were removed by specialist craftsmen and replaced with natural slates. The gutter which was completely rotten was replaced by a new one which is an exact copy of the original model. The design of the gutter is based on old photos from 1907. The zinc gutter was delicately decorated with modillions by the Troiani and Orlando team. These are vertical baffles with coils. In total there are 148 unique examples of the original version dating from 1847. A weather vane sings atop the roof, which was gilded by Maud herself. The eaves were finished with new ironwork based on the loop also found in the garden gate of Villa Servais.

Enchanting garden

Everything around Villa Servais has also been restored. Two wells of 10,000 liters each, a septic tank of 5,000 liters and a infiltration well of 3,000 liters should prevent the villa from placing additional demands on the sewer pipes.
Of course, the garden should not be missing in this renovation story. It was not possible to return to construction during the time of Servais due to the small surface area. The challenge was therefore to work with relief structures and natural lines. Here the landscape architect Anne Voets made sure of that. Native trees and old fruit trees were chosen in harmony with the lime tree which was already there at the time of François Servais. The garden will have an important function for events, the tea room, the guest house and as a reception area for visitors.
In the garden you will find a copy of the Roman two-armed Warwick vase repainted in bronze.

The lions in front of Villa Servais have been completely restored. These two impressive sculptures were very important to the children of the gendarmerie and the many schoolchildren. The lions each weigh 350 kilos and were taken to the I-Parc studio for restoration. They were first cleaned thoroughly, then every crack was carefully treated. One lion was even taken apart into three different pieces and meticulously reassembled. The refined finish includes two coats of paint.

After five years of intensive restoration, Villa Servais will be ready for a new chapter in history from fall 2021.
Or in the words of the new owners: “We want to close the sad chapter of exactly 40 years of vacancy and go back to the period of the rich cultural history of Villa Servais. We want to offer a new stage to cellists, musicians, photographers, painters, sculptors, dancers, residents of Hallen and non-Hallenians and welcome guests from all over the world in the Music Room and the B&B, like the Servais family . us took place in the 19th century.