Did Your Ancestor Build A Grand Home in Paris?
30 September 2013
We are a flanneur (stroller) of Paris, like so many who love the city, often with our camera. The pictures we take grace our blog posts and you may have noted that many are of the architectural details of the exuberant Art Nouveau buildings. Those wondrous buildings were constructed mostly between two wars that were disastrous for France: the Franco-Prussian War, with the shattering Paris Commune, and the First World War. Much has been written about the French expression of the human spirit's need to fling beauty at ugliness, joy at despair in order to survive and the Art Nouveau buildings of Paris are among the most radiant examples of this.
Some of our Dear Readers have written telling of wealthy ancestors who were the builders of some of these grand edifices (Monsieur C, this is for you!) and, researching one's Parisian ancestors being such a thorny genealogical problem, we are pleased to write that we have found a spiffy little blog that can use the details of the one to further the progress of the other. A blogeur who uses the humourous title Le Mateur des Nouilles* has meticulously researched and listed thousands of construction permits, permits de construire, submitted in Paris between 1876 and 1939, in a blog simply entitled Paris 1876-1939 : Les Permits de Construire, because that is all it is.
He explains that he considers his work to be supplementary to the "Dictionnaire par noms d'architectes des constructions élevées à Paris aux XIXe et XXe siècles - Première série, période 1876-1899", by Anne Dugast and Isabelle Parizet. He has scoured the publications "La Semaine des Constructeurs" and “Bulletin municipal officiel de la Ville de Paris” for notices of requests for permits and of construction work in progress. It has been quite a project, which he writes took him twenty years and resulted in 66,000 cards.
Each entry gives the:
- Street address
- Name of the property owner
- Address of the property owner
- Date of the permit request
The entries are arranged alphabetically by street name. Enter your ancestor's name in the search box to find the details of the permit request. Armed with that, you can then go to the Archives de Paris to see if there may not be a file on the project, with possibly more genealogically useful information, thence to Google Street view to see if the building constructed by your ancestor still exists. (Is no one working on a historical version of Street View? Made from old photos, prints, paintings, etc. we could have "Street View 1900" or "Street View 1700" or a sort of "Street View Through Time". Sigh; we need more lives.) Lastly, you might visit Le Mateur's other blog to see his photographs of many of the buildings. No entries have been made on either blog for some time, and we do hope that all is well.
©2013 Anne Morddel
*Our pink Larousse gives for mateur a worker in metal, more specifically, one who erases the blobby line made by soldering. Reader, Monsieur M. added this comment below, which explains all, including his dislike of the style: In French slang, "mater" also means "to stare". Thus, "Le Mateur des Nouilles" can be read as "the one who stares at noodles". "Noodles", of course, being those awful and pretentious... er, those beautifully convoluted things which are typical of Parisian 1900 style ("style nouille").