Tim Laman of Fort Worth, Texas, sent us this piece about an abandoned architectural gem that has captured his attention. If you too have discovered some wonderful buildings you’d like to share, send their stories along so we can ooh and aah with you. – Jamie
I have always had an interest in historic buildings, but abandoned places seem to have an added draw. During the 1980’s I lived in a small town, and there was an old movie theater on Main Street that was probably 50 years old, but it was obviously abandoned for a long time. On the back side of the building, it looked like someone had driven a truck into the wall and left a gaping hole. I wasn’t brave enough to go in, but I could see the remains of a movie screen hanging in tatters, seats ripped from the floor and pushed into a dust-covered pile, and a broken down popcorn machine. It made me wonder what the theater used to be like when it was new, and what it still could be if only someone cared.
Over the years I’ve explored other abandoned buildings, but these days you really don’t have to go further than online to see them. There are many websites with photos taken by “urban explorers,” and although you can’t believe everything you read, pictures usually don’t lie. It was on one of these websites (abandoned-places.com) a couple of weeks ago that I came across images of something beautiful and utterly unique.
The Château Miranda, later called Chateau Noisy and located near Celles, Belgium, was built in phases circa 1866-1907. Most of the historical accounts I’ve read online seem to copy each other, but sources say the architects were an Englishman named Milner, followed by Pelchner, who was French. The château was built for Count Liedekerke-Beaufort, whose family also still owns the nearby Castle of Veves. The château was used as a private residence for many years, then occupied briefly by the Germans during World War II, and later converted into a home for children. Exactly how long the property has been neglected seems uncertain, but indications are that it has been out of use since 1991.
The most striking feature of the château is a turreted clock tower which rises some 183 feet (56 meters) above the main house. The entire structure has many towers, conical roofs, and other Neo-Gothic details. It truly is like something out of a fairy tale, but a combination of vandalism, the elements, and deferred maintenance have taken their toll. Most of the 500 windows have been broken; walls, floors and staircases have collapsed; and fire has burned away some upper sections. Mold is a problem in this climate, and trees are growing on the roofs. Although beautifully rendered ceilings and columns still exist inside, they are in constant danger of being permanently lost. The property is privately owned, and the owner seems to be concentrating his efforts on preserving only the Castle of Veves. Some of the posts online allege that hunters in the area try to run off any intruders around the château, and others say that the building is so dilapidated it’s very dangerous to go inside.
What will happen to this place? How can further damage be prevented? In my opinion, it would take raised awareness, an international outcry, organization, and money. Last week I found a Facebook group called “Chateau de Noisy” with 200 members from all over the world, and there is a link there to an online petition which you can sign. The “Helpful Links” section of Adventures in Preservation’s website provides valuable contact information for other organizations all over the world which might be able to help with this cause. And I also decided that if nothing else I can send letters and emails to media outlets, even celebrities, who might be willing to get the word out and initiate some kind of action. My dream is to visit Château Miranda someday and to see it preserved for future generations, but it will take many more voices who care enough to make this dream a reality.
A reader sent this link to a petition to save Château de Noisy, whose plight continues to attract attention from around the world.