The Fondation des États-Unis saw the light of day thanks to the ambassador Myron Timothy Herrick who, in 1925, enlisted American universities and numerous donors, notably the American couple Mabel Knowles Gage and her husband, the surgeon Homer Gage.
It was inaugurated in April 1930 in the presence of its founders, the Gage couple, the American ambassador, Walter Evans Edge and Gaston Doumergue, the president of the French Republic. The house was intended to offer a place to stay to American students and researchers in Paris.
Since 1930 the foundation has awarded the Harriet Hale Woolley scholarship every year to American artists and musicians in Paris as well as to an American, French or Swiss psychiatry interns.
The house holds the status of a foundation and is recognised as a public utility of which the board of directors is chaired by the chancellor of the academic region of Île-de-France, chancellor of the Académie de Paris.
We owe this large building to the architect Pierre Leprince-Ringuet, Prix de Rome winner in 1904, who is known for having constructed the Beirut archaeological museum, the maison des élèves de l’École Centrale à Paris and the Michelin workshops in London. The building is U-shaped, made up of a central section on boulevard Jourdan and two wings on the park side. The peach brick façades are punctuated with strips of treated stone.
The house has 267 rooms, as well as 8 workshops and 9 music studios reserved for artists.
Completed in December 2019, the renovation work, carried out by Circonflexe Architectes, gave residents a more comfortable space, taking their new needs and lifestyle into account.
All of the rooms in the East Wing are equipped with a bathroom with a shower and toilet, a fridge and furniture designed by the chief architect and made from beech in the Loire. The natural materials are used for the furniture but also for the floor which is covered in linoleum. There are also three handicapped-accessible rooms. The communal kitchens and showers were entirely reconfigured to offer more functional and warm spaces.
On the lower ground floor the hall has several distinct spaces: a space dedicated to the practice of the arts and sport such as dance or yoga, a comfortable space with dim lighting to watch tv, a large open kitchen and a dining area. The old rooms have been joined to completely reconfigure the space into: a multipurpose room, two music studios and a room for the residents committee.
Although the rooms and the communal spaces are more comfortable, it was the environmental aspect that was at the heart of the work.
In order to meet the Foundation’s needs, photovoltaic panels were installed on the two terraces. The terraces’ size made it possible to install panels that generate 8 to 10% of the East Wing’s consumption, depending on the season.
The second important environmental issue was the water treatment for reusing water. So, the Foundation invested in a grey water heating recovery system. Put simply, it “preheats” the water using the calories recovered from used water.
The house celebrated 90 years in 2020 and there is a plan to renovate the 5th floor, the façade and other various areas with respect to the art deco style of its interior.
Open to the public, the Foundation’s cultural programme showcases its artistic residents and alumni, always ready to return to the “FEU” by proposing a large range of concerts, expositions, workshops, conferences and spectacles. It is also the initiative for an original project: Art-Hop-Polis. Every first Wednesday of the month, the public is invited to hop from one private viewing to the next in the different participating houses in order to discover the exhibitions by artists from around the world. Its programme is available on the agenda CitéScope.
The house also rents out spaces like the Grand salon Art déco for professional events.
Jay Gottlieb is an American pianist who was born in New York. He works with famous 20th century pianists and composers such as Nadia Boulanger and John Cage. He has created numerous œuvres for the piano, several of which are dedicated to him.
Bas-reliefs by Marcel Gaumont adorn the main façade. The biggest is located on the central pediment and represents the bald eagle, the emblem of the United States, surrounded by two allegories: one of the Notre-Dame of Paris and the other of a skyscraper., symbolising the meeting between the old and new worlds. On the inside, in the entrance hall and the large lounge, the decor is markedly art deco. The large lounge is decorated with frescos by Robert La Montagne Saint-Hubert, evoking the history of French art over time.