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Restoration

Video restoration Villa Servais December 2021

Music: François Servais – Souvenir de Spa

From demolition to reconstruction and repurposing

All areas in Villa Servais were rearranged to their original setting during the restoration.

so got  the Salle de Musique haar oorspronkelijke ruimte terug op het gelijkvloers. On the first and second floor  is becoming  a luxurious  guest house  elaborated with respect for the original spaces.  This B&B has eight breathtaking rooms that are equipped with every comfort. Some of them are looking forward  on the  Gothic Saint Martin Basilica.  Other rooms have a  phenomenal  view of the Art Deco  Church of Saint Roch  or the lime tree that François Servais loved so much.

on  the second floor  the roof truss was exposed under which  henceforth  the private home  is housed  from Maud, Geert, daughter  Enora  and  Gribouille, the cat of the house.  A studio will be built in the basement, where cooking used to be done  for the restoration of furniture  and frames.

Restoration in the villa with an eye for detail

In Villa Servais, the restoration works were worked out with great precision. The round arches between the entrance hall and music hall have been restored and the doors of the front facade have also been given a new lease of life thanks to the carpenter Karel Perdu. After the many layers of paint had been removed, the original colour, especially the ‘bronzine’ green, was found. The wooden windows were completely renewed to the original model.

Much of the original moldings and ceiling in the music hall have been preserved and have been meticulously restored. Plaster decorations Coremans from Hoboken was called in to reproduce the molds of the original moldings in the studio. These were made using a technique called ‘punishment’: the plaster is applied layer by layer, just like in 1847. The bone glue was replaced by silicone.

The Japanese murals were completely restored. In the first phase this meant consolidating the lime plaster, removing the overpaint, the remains of the wallpaper and the old fillings. This was followed by cleaning and fixing of the paint layer and the wall was protected with Japanese paper. Finally, this was removed and all necessary retouches could be carried out in detail.

A typical element in Villa Servais are the mantelpieces in marble and natural stone. They are often found in the communal areas and in some guest rooms. During the restoration, the six beautiful mantelpieces could be preserved and restored. Four of them will be operational again.

The wooden interior doors were all restored in the Halse studio of Luc Merckx . He also restores the wooden wall of the library on the first floor. The exterior doors were renovated and fitted with new wavy drawn glass. The interior plastering was performed by lime plaster. The facade was also given a new layer of lime plaster, which was subsequently painted over in the presumed original colour, especially the ocher yellow. A typical feature of the Neo-Palladian style of the 19th century.

The original cassette floor was restored in the music hall on the ground floor. Here a lot of attention was paid to the restoration of the wind roses on the different corners and to the motif of the Hungarian point.

The hollow spaces in the authentic floors of the villa were blown in by Houtcreations CVBA with bio-ecological paper flakes, which ensures natural heat and sound insulation. A major ecological step forward to optimize the acoustics in the concert hall and the guest rooms of the B&B.

The old staircase in the villa was renovated in 1898 and was renovated by the Trappen Demunster 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 panels in the reception area were executed in a light green, veined fantasy marble. The whole was surrounded by a border in a secondary marble, similar to Jaune Fleuri. Hallenaren Monja Duponcheel of Viva Pintura and Els Creytens of Profile have succeeded in exposing the underlying layer, which was painted over in 1898 when Villa Servais was a two-family house. A large part could be imbedded with the background color, for the rest an in-depth reconstruction was needed.

The restoration and reconstruction of the marble imitations in ‘le petit salon’ (now reception room) and ‘salle à manger’ (now kitchen) is also meticulously carried out. In two rooms, the old marble imitations that were painted in oil are being completely restored. In the kitchen we see a paneling of panels in dark green marble (similar to Vert de Mer) with a Napoléon border. Just above it are large panels in Brèche Violette surrounded by a white marble border (Blanc Veiné).

There is music in the renovation… also outside

Inside the villa everything has been restored with an eye for detail, but also on the facade a real monk’s work was done. Contractor Vandendorpe meticulously restored the symmetry of the original architect Jean-Pierre Cluysenaar. The annex to the east wing, which was added in the 1950s and served as a toilet for the seven families of the gendarmerie, was removed.

The further reconstruction of the east and west facades of Villa Servais means that some window sills made of Hainaut bluestone will be reused and other parts will be renewed according to the motif of the original sills. The new cornerstones of the window frame were made from the French stone ‘Massangis’. Each door or window frame was restored by stonemason Wim Van Roye .

The terracotta sculptures on the facade, by the sculptor Godebski, were thoroughly tackled by restorer Delphine Vandevoorde . Rossini’s bas-relief was restored and Meyerbeer’s was fully reproduced by Linda Temmink . This happened after intensive study in Spa, where Servais and Meyerbeer once 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 have the garlands beneath the sculptures.

The roof of Villa Servais was in very bad condition. Fortunately, the original roof trusses could be preserved. You can enjoy this in the guest rooms Liszt and Joseph. Extensive roof work, insulation work and stability work must make the roof truss strong again for the future. The old asbestos slates from the 1980s were removed by specialized craftsmen and replaced by natural slates. The gutter was completely rotten and was replaced with a new one that is an exact copy of the original model. The gutter design is based on old photos from 1907. The zinc box gutter was delicately decorated with modillons by the team of Troiani and Orlando. These are vertical baffles with bobbins. In total there are 148 unique copies of the original version dating from 1847. A weathercock crows on top of the roof, which was gilded by Maud himself. The eaves were finished with new ironwork based on the curl that can also be found in the garden gate of the Villa Servais.

Enchanting garden

Everything around Villa Servais was also restored. Two water wells of 10,000 liters each, a septic tank of 5,000 liters and an infiltration well of 3,000 liters should prevent the villa from putting extra strain on the sewage pipes.

Of course, the garden should not be missing in this renovation story. It was not possible to return to the construction at the time of Servais because of the small surface area. So the challenge was to work with relief structures and natural lines. Landscape architect Ann Voets has taken care of this. Indigenous trees and old fruit trees were chosen in harmony with the lime tree that was already there at the time of François Servais. The garden will have an important function for the events, the tearoom, the guest house and as a reception area for visitors.

In the garden you will find a copy of the Roman Warwick vase with two arms repainted in bronze.

The lions in front of Villa Servais have been completely restored. These two imposing sculptures were very important to the children of the gendarmerie and the many school children. The lions weigh 350 kilograms each and were transported to the I-Parc studio. First they were given a thorough cleaning and afterwards each crack was carefully tackled. One lion was even removed in 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 autumn 2021.

Or to put it 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 give cellists, musicians, photographers, painters, sculptors, dancers, residents of Hallen and non-Halle residents a new stage and receive guests from all over the world in the Salle de Musique and the B&B, just like the Servais family instructs us. occurred in the 19th century.”