At the close of the 19th Century, Madame Roederer, widow of Eugène Roederer and a great patron of religious works, built an old people’s hospice in the Rue de Courlancy. The hospice was opened on 19 October 1899 by the archbishop and other notable figures (among them Charles Heidsieck).
Originally known as the Hospice Roederer Boisseau, the hospice morphed into the Roederer Boisseau Foundation in 1971.
Madame Roederer, widow of Eugène Roederer, was one of Rheims’ great patrons of religious works, who left instructions in her will to build this old people’s hospice in the Rue de Courlancy.
A well-known local figure, Madame Roederer left a bequest of two million francs for the construction of a major hospital in the vicinity of Courlancy, for which some 50,000m2 of land were acquired in advance.
Construction commenced at the end of the 19th Century. Madame Roederer’s brother and executor Monsieur Félix Boisseau then gifted the hospice to the town of Rheims, on condition that it would always be run by Roman Catholic nuns.
It was Madame Roederer’s wish that the house would be placed in the hands of a religious community. Rheims’ Commission Administrative des Hospices Civils chose the Sisters of Charity who were already established in the Place Museux.
On 14 November 1903, responsibility passed to the Congregation of the Sisters Hospitaliers of St Augustine, the successors of the ’Chanoinesses (canonesses) de l’Hôtel de Dieu de Reims’. The hospice at that time was home to just 40 elderly people.
On 24 March 1918, with war raging, the sisters of the hospice had to flee to Rouen where a community of the Sisters Hospitaliers of St Augustine gave them shelter for a year.
During their absence, the French military occupied the hospice and set up a 1000-bed hospital. Seven barrack huts were set up in the garden to make space for the wounded.
Thanks to its location, the hospice was less vulnerable to bombardment than the centre of the town, providing safer shelter for civilians, adults and children alike. After the civilian hospital was bombed, the maternity wards were transferred here.
The Augustinian sisters returned at the end of the war on 21 March 1919, and resumed their running of the Roederer Boisseau Foundation until 1998.
They then took a well-deserved retirement but continue to play an active part in the life of the chapel, the chaplaincy of the "Association Joie de Vivre", conservation, etc..
The monastery, known as the Monastery of Notre Dame de Reims, was once on the outskirts of the city, not surrounded by houses and streets as it is today. The Roederer Boisseau Foundation was designed by architect Paul Marbeau, based in Paris, represented on site by Messrs Margolin and Thierot.
The Hôpital Roederer Boisseau is unlike any other of the Augustinian sister’s residences. Though fitted out with all modern conveniences, it in no way resembles contemporary convents, and even less the abbeys and monasteries of ancient times.
The site is a huge pentagon of nearly six hectares, extending from the Rue de Courlancy on its eastern side, all the way to the Rue Martin and the countryside to the west; from the Rue de Rilly in the south to the line of a planned road to the north.Surrounded by walls, the Foundation is entered by a large gate opening onto a huge courtyard. The facade of the building is made up of three identical wings, which are linked by galleries.
The building is entirely constructed from millstone, a mixture of fragments and solid stone, combined with Montchanin brick. All parts are connected by galleries, some above some below ground but always covered.
The aedicule chapel enjoys good natural light thanks to central window bays, designed to complement the style of the other buildings. Given the building’s small size, murals are de rigueur decoration for the inner walls. The first-floor apartments are for the almoner, flanked on either side by the presbytery, with the caretaker’s lodge on the ground floor.
The Roederer Boisseau Foundation is now a registered EHPAD (Etablissement d’Hébergement pour Personnes Âgées Dépendantes or home for the dependent elderly) with room for upwards of 60 residents.
A new building will be completed within the Roederer Boisseau grounds by the end of 2017, located at the back of the Residence Wilson, to which it will be connected by a gallery. Equipped to a very high standard for the comfort of residents, an extra 5,000m2 of floorspace will accommodate 90 beds.