Les Vollandes

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History of Les Vollandes estate

XVII century

In the 12th century the estate belonged to the Vollandes family.

Then the estate passed to a rich ironmongery trader, Nicolas Passavant (1605―1682).

In 1690 Simon Passavant (28 May 1648 ― 15 September 1708) became the owner of several plots in this county and built a house, grain storage and a stall. The first rural house was situated a bit higher than the present one. It was located athwart to Frontenex road until midst of XX century and was continually enlarged with annexes.

XVIII century

In the first half of the 13th century the property passed from one hand to the other, while remaining in the possession of the same family, intermarried in three generations with the Malle family.

Description of the estate from the cadastre of 1711:

«The central yard, located at a certain distance from the road had a house of rural style on its north border and a fenced plot, where cannabis was cultured. Further there was a square garden with potted plants…»

«A house of rural style, in which the hosts were allowed to occupy only one or two bedrooms during the harvest periods»

In 1712 the widow of Simon Passavant bequeathed the Volland estate to the nephew of her husband. The brother of Pierre Faure, Antoine Faure, was a merchant, who lived in Leipzig. He left a rich heritage to his daughters, Marguerite and Susanne after his death. The younger daughter moved to the estate named Empiretritsyn, in Pregny after her marriage to lawyer Alexandre Sales. The elder daughter married merchant Jean Louis Labat, who became the owner of Les Vollandes and Grand-Cour estate in Nord Vaudois in 1755.

In August 1712 the bill of sale for the estate Les Vollandes signed in August 1712 allowed the individual who acquired the estate [...] the delivery of the construction materials, prior to the recognition of his property rights over the estate (fixed for February 1713).

In 1713 Pierre Faure launched construction of the lower floors.

The building had two similar facades. The windows of the living room were opening towards the street separated from the building by a little garden.

Around 1718 on the map of Jacques Barthélémy Micheli du Crest one can see the master house with five galleries on the facade built on the former cannabis field.

In 1719 artist Robert Gardelle reflects in a realistic style the landscape of the estate and its new master house on one of his canvas.

In 1721 seized by a crisis, which followed the wreck of the Law system, Pierre Faure took a large loan from his brother in law, jewelry merchant David Guinier-Gautier.

On the plan of Geneva and its surroundings of 1735, several trees, planted in chess order are indicated in front of the facade. To the north there was an elongated fence, decorated with a large flower bed. This flower bed had to be seen from the windows of master bedrooms of the rural house. The building is surrounded by trees and flowers. Several plaster statues were among orange trees, pomegranate bushes and myrtle.

Inventories of 1739 and 1747 as well as the canvas by Robert Gardelle, confirm that this house of pleasure had fewer floors, compared with today.

In the lower floor, which is presently the basement, the kitchen and, most likely, the dining room were placed. The floor above was divided into six spacious rooms: two of them on the axis, each illuminated by three large windows, and four bedrooms in the corners. Most likely, the passage from floor to floor was from outside, by a staircase, leading from the main entrance.

Facades of Les Vollandes estate have many common features with the houses of that era. Corner pilasters supported the plastered walls. The central front door, the width of which exceeds the other doorways ended with an arch segment. As in Gerdil or in the Genthod presbytery, this door was featured with a little square portico. This portico is cast by two strengthening pilasters framing the entrance and supporting a molded gallery.

The facades had a “quadrille” decor, inherited from the 17th century ― the rectangular framings of apertures are the thick window stool plates, decorated with a stucco modeling, along the lower protrusions. They are also present at Grand Morillon, built in 1713―1714, and at the back facades of the Beau-lieu, built in 1711.

While a small flower bed was situated between the new house and the present Frontenex road, the backyard was overwhelmed with charming vegetation.

The inventory of 1739 confirms that owners of the house paid particular attention to the surrounding plants. Seventeen orange and one lemon tree planted in wooden tubs were listed in the inventory. Twenty smaller orange trees were planted in clay pots. The garden had quite a few pomegranate trees, myrtle, rosemary and laurels. In addition to the numerous flowers, the inventory testifies existence of several plaster statues, which would have given a refining touch to the gardens.

In 1739 Pierre Faure was unable to return the loans taken in 1721 and put up les Vollandes estate for auction as per the demands of his creditors. The estate was acquired by the nephew of Pierre Faure, trader François Allyon-Guainier, who soon surrendered it to his brother-in-law, a pastor and a new-bourgeois Jacques Claude Claparide, husband of Anne Marie Guainier.

In 1742 Pastor Claparide died, leaving three minor sons. His heirs put the estate for sale again motivated by their dislike of rural life and the extremely high running expenditures compared to the purchase cost, and by the fact that their father acquired the estate for recreation rather than for a profit.

So, the estate ultimately no longer belonged to Passavants and their relatives, and passed into the possession of the Buisson family, whose descendants would hold it until the end of World War II.

In 1742, Les Vollandes was repurchased by minor brothers Jean Louis and Jean Jacques Buisson, the only grandchildren of a trader and an administrator Léonard Buisson-Sarasin (1643―1719), who enlarged the possessions of Beau-Pré in Genthod. In the city the brothers resided on Calvin street, in a beautiful house, construction of which was launched by their grandfather in 1699 and designed by the famous bureau Mansart in Paris. Because of minor age of the buyers, the transaction was carried out by their mother, Jeanne De Tournes (1694―1770), widow of Marc Conrad Buisson (1679―1740), an auditor.

Almost twenty years Jeanne De Tournes and her sons lived in Les Vollandes estate keeping its original size.

In 1760 the elder son, lawyer Jean Louis Buisson married his cousin, Anne Jeanne Boissier, the grand daughter of the constructer of La Boissier. The young spouse was born in Genoa where her father, Guillaume Boissier-Buisson (1690―1759) supervised a solid family banking establishment.

In 1768 Jean Louis Buisson-Boissier began major construction works of upgrading the master house of Les Vollandes estate. He extended the nucleus of the estate to the road of Chêne, from where he built a long ally traversing the fields to the master house. As noted by the historian Edmond Barde, in 1768, he ordered to estimate the cost of expansion of the building by four meters. As we can see, the house later really became much larger in width, but more in the height as one more floor was added. The dining room now could have been joined with the guest room on the same floor, which was expanded by a corner room, exactly as in Beaulieu in the same years. A small ladder with two direct ramps linked all the floors, diminishing the rooms along the corridor.

On the facade, the new floor repeated the rhythm and the style of the original openings, in spite of the fact that wide salient windows were out of fashion already for a long time. Nevertheless, the owners made few small deviations by slightly softening the features of the upper floor windows. From the halls’ side, they added two Toscanian pilasters. During these works, the house got its central leader with the steps. Gardens and paths for promenades were extended.

In 1769 brothers Buisson jointly acquired the second country side estate Saugey in Satigny. The younger brother moved to Saugey and Les Volland estate passed to the elder brother who lived there with the mother.

In 1770 younger brother Jean Jacques Buisson and Jeanne Anne Marguerite Boissier (1735―1809) got married.

The cadastral survey of 1788 proves that the estate was increasingly adjusted to the comfort of the owners: the master house, the flower beds, the lane, the paths and garden were improved considerably.

In 1797 the inventory was made on the occasion of bankruptcy of Jean Louis Buisson, for whom the revolution became a synonym for destruction as for many other rich inhabitants of Geneva of that time.

Inventory extract:

“There are two plantations of trees, one of chestnuts and the other of limes. Three garden pavilions are stretched on the edge of properties along the public roads.

On the terrace situated between the mentioned house (master) and Frontenex road , there is a fenced pavilion, decorated with pilasters and outdoor statues. It has a tile floor and a tin roof; at the other end of the wall, there is another pavilion for midday launches, hidden in the trees, decorated and painted, built from light masonry, the roof is tiled and tined. It is divided into two rooms with same entrance. Finally there was the third pavilion, close to the road of Chêne, with a lattice fence and covered with tin.”

In 1798 the real estate of Jean Louis Buisson was purchased by his three children, unmarried lawyer Jean Jacques Buisson (1763―1841), the last person to wear this family name, and his sisters, Marguerite (1761―1840) and Catherine Louise Adylapde Buisson (1766―1844). Only Louise Adylapde Buisson will continue the Buisson family. She married Henri Boissier (1762―1845), a professor of the Academy and a member Representative Council, who will inherit the estate of Boissière.

By the end of 18th century Les Volland estate occupied 5 hectares between roads Frontenex and Chêne.

XIX century

In 1844 the estate passed to Emile Naville-Saladin (1820―1897), the youngest of the grandchildren of Catherine Louise Adylapde Buisson-Boissier, the son of Anne Sophie Adylapde Boissier (1792―1820), and Jean Edouard Naville (1787―1851), agronomist, the mayor of the town Eaux-Vives, administrator and the owner of the neighboring Montchoisy estate.

In 1885 a railroad construction between the Eaux-Vives and Aneemasse had taken place and the year 1886 divided the estate territory into two parts.

In 1897, the estate passed to the nephew and godson of Emile Naville, Gustave Naville Neher (1848―1929), an engineer, who had lived in the German part of Switzerland for a long time, a pioneer in the development of aluminum production, one of the founding members of the French independent church in Zurich in 1902.

By 1929, the children of Gustave Naville kept the estate undivided.

XX century

In 1947 the estate was sold and progressively partitioned many times.

At the beginning of the fifties the architects Honegger run their bureau in the master house.

In 1970 the fire destroyed the house, beginning from the ground floor.

XXI century

Today Les Vollandes estate has kept only the master houses envelope, a little yard in the shadow of chestnuts and a huge Lebanese cedar planted by Jean Eduard Naville in 1820.

From 2008 the estate is owned by SI Les Vollandes SA.