Ancestry UK

Maison Eugène Napoléon / Orphelinat du Faubourg Saint Antoine, Paris, Seine, France

La Maison Eugène Napoléon, a Paris orphanage for Roman Catholic girls, was founded by the Empress Eugène in 1853 using the money that the City Council had voted to offer her, on the occasion of her marriage, for the purchase of a diamond necklace. The building was located at 254 Rue de Faubourg Saint Antoine, and its architect was Jacques Ignace Hittorff, whose design was inspired by the necklace that had originally been proposed.

The orphanage was run by the Sisters of Saint Vincent de Paul. Up until 1870, the Empress contribute to the running costs of the home by making an annual payment of 300 francs for each orphan. After 1870, the establishment changed its name and character, though continued to be run by the same Sisters. It first became 'l'Orphelinat des Jeunes Ouvrières' (Orphanage of Young Workers) then adopted the title of 'l'Orphelinat du Faubourg Saint Antoine' (Orphanage of the suburb of Saint Antoine). In 1873, its administration was taken over by a council composed of six members appointed by the Minister of Interior and a representative of each of the public administrations contributing to the maintenance of the orphanage. Under its new constitution, the establishment was intended to receive and provide a moral and religious education and training for girls aged from 8 to 12 years. First, there were to be 300 places for girls placed by their families, by several large organisations, or by benefactors, who paid a charge of 40 francs a month until the girl reached the age of 18. In addition, there were to be received, without charge, as many as possible, destitute young girls, who were orphans, semi-orphans or who had been abandoned, and keep them (without obligation) until the age of 21 and providing an outfit to those who would not go out that at that age.

In 1903, the orphanage had 330 residents, including a number of orphans had been placed at their expense, by the Legion of Honour, by railway companies or other organisations, and some admitted free of charge by the institution's council. The inmates were taught sewing, dress-making, embroidery in gold and silk, laundry work, and basic elements of domestic hygiene.

The training section of the establishment developed its own identity as l'École Professionnelle Eugène-Napoléon, offering practical and theoretical courses in the design, making and repair of fine lingerie, and the creation of gold embroidery for military equipment.

The establishment continued in operation until 1976. The building is now home to the Eugène-Napoléon vocational high school as well as a primary school, nursery school and student accommodation.


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