The Auban family is well known for its many donations in support of culture and the building of churches and private schools. But our principal focus here falls on their activities in the field of social welfare, and the building of the Hôpital Auban-Moët in particular. Victor Auban became an associate of Champagne House Moët & Chandon when he married his cousin Rachel Moët de Romont.
Work began on construction of the hospital and adjoining chapel in 1887, personally funded by Auban to the tune of 1.6 million francs. Still in operation today, the hospital is Epernay’s third largest employer and celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1993 with a series of special events, exhibitions, conferences and visits. The crypt-chapel alone welcomed 1,000 visitors. Built on the initiative of the then mayor of Epernay, Charles Gérard, the crypt chapel was always intended as the family burial vault of the donors and is maintained in perpetuity by the hospital authorities. Fifty years after its inauguration in 1893, the hospital received a one million franc endowment, together with a donation of 100,000 francs, from Eugénie Van Bomberghem, daughter of Auban-Moët’s second wife. Eugénie also commissioned the building of a sanatorium on the Rue Croix de Bussy, which is now the Sainte-Marthe retirement home, so named after Eugénie’s daughter who died of tuberculosis.
The plight of working mothers was another cause dear to the heart of Victor Auban-Moët, particularly the difficulties facing the women employed by the Champagne Houses themselves. Wine-making, bottling, labeling, grape picking — all of these activities required childcare facilities in support, which were duly provided. by Auban-Moët in the form of two creches, one (1887) in the Rue des Jancelins, the other (1891) in the Rue Thiercelin. Both were located in Epernay and known as the "Rachel creches" after Victor’s prematurely-deceased first wife.
Victor Auban-Moët passed away in Epernay on 10 August 1896 and was interred in the crypt chapel of the Hôpital Auban-Moët. Eighteen days later, Epernay Town Council voted to rename the then Place du Marché after Auban-Moët and also to name the hospital after its founder.
At the Exposition Universelle of 1900 Moët & Chandon was awarded a gold medal of honour in grateful recognition of its outstanding contribution to employee welfare. Special praise was reserved for the House’s introduction of free healthcare for all employees, together with the provision of financial aid for families, the sick and the retired, and also legal aid and housing assistance.