A nine-month project will be undertaken in 2023 to restore the carved wardrobes of the Alençon media library in the former Jesuit church. The project is carried out by the Alençon Urban Community under the scientific and technical control of the State (Normandy Regional Cultural Affairs Directorate). At the same time, a call for patronage from the Heritage Foundation was launched.
A treasure of books in a wooden ship
The restoration of the carved wardrobes of the Alençon media library in the old Jesuit church
by Pierre Taillefer, curator at the DRAC of Normandy
The Aveline d'Alençon media library is housed in the old church of the Jesuit college, built between 1679 and 1708. The slender architecture and imperial roof of this building, which was listed as a historic monument in 1926, evoke Italian Baroque art and contrast with the usual severity of Jesuit churches in western France. In 1799, the building was horizontally divided into two levels by the architect Jean Delarue, who had already built the Alençon town hall. The ground floor serves as a reception and conference room, while the first floor is first converted into a drawing room and then a public library. The architect then adapts to this case the carved oak cabinets of the xviiie from the Charterhouse of Val-Dieu in the Perche – dismembered during the Revolution – and pierced six large dormers in the roof to flood the reading room with light.
In this ship 26 meters long by 8 meters wide covered with a chestnut vault in the shape of a carina, the 26 cabinets of the Val-Dieu (classified as historical monuments in 1982) are home to a large collection of heritage books – from the Jesuit College, libraries of the large neighbouring abbeys (Saint-Évroult, Le Val-Dieu, La Trappe, Saint-Martin-de-Saées) and the Bishopric and Major Seminary of Sées – including 14,000 works belonging to the State. Above the rocaille style cabinets unfolds a entablature of the xixe century of neoclassical inspiration alternating garlands and cartouches paying homage to the illustrious Ornais: Marguerite de Navarre, Armand de Rancé, Nicolas-Jacques Conté, etc.
Faced with the appearance of multiple structural disorders on the cabinets (deformation of the shelves, spacing of the assemblies, cant of certain bays), the Alençon Urban Community entrusted the chief architect of historical monuments Daniel Lefèvre with the establishment in 2021 of a heritage diagnosis to understand the causes. The work that will be undertaken in 2023 consists, after having temporarily moved the funds of the media library, of depositing, consolidating and completely restoring the cabinets and their carved decorations. The project, carried out by the Alençon Urban Community under the scientific and technical control of the State (Normandy Regional Directorate of Cultural Affairs) should last nine months.
Call for patronage
These 26 carved oak cabinets from the mid-18th century are in danger. Their deformation requires major work estimated at just over 600,000 € to restore them, preserve this place and its fund. It is to safeguard this remarkable heritage that a sponsorship operation with the Heritage Foundation is set up.
Why become a patron?
- You become an actor alongside the community;
- You participate in the attractiveness of your territory;
- You can communicate differently thanks to the benefits offered to patrons;
- You value the know-how and values of your company;
- You build relationships with local actors.
So with your donations, you participate in the development of the territory by getting involved in a new project.
How do I do this?
The proposed counterparties according to the amount of your donations:
- From 20 €: list of donors on the website
- From €50: photo of the donor in the chapel room
- From €100: private visit including restoration workshop
- From €150: invitation to the inauguration with a gift of a packed bag
You will receive a deduction of:
- Personal Income Tax up to 66% of the donation and up to 20% of the taxable income;
- 75% of the donation up to a limit of €50,000;
- Corporation Tax, up to 60% of the donation, up to 5% of the turnover.