Mentioned in archives as early as 1642, the castle located 16 rue Charles VII (today the MABA) is the oldest of the domain of Nogent-sur-Marne, which housed seventeen successive residents from the 17th to the 19th century. Among them was Louis Camus des Touches, father of the famous author of the Encyclopédie, Abbé de Pomponne, as well as the businessman of the Countess du Barry, who got guillotined with her in 1793. Like the adjoining mansion, the castle of 16 rue Charles VII was built following a three-stories floor plan, the first being made of rock walls.
In 1895, after her husband died, Anne-Léontine Smith and her brother Auguste Lesouëf bought the castle and its garden. The forested area that separated the two castles was cut and the two gardens were turned into one large English park. Madeleine Smith-Champion moved in with her husband Pierre Champion in 1912. In August 1914, the Smith sisters contributed to the war effort and turned Madeleine’s mansion into a military hospital known as the Hôpital Auxiliaire n°73. The Smith-Champion fully incurred the costs of this medicalized clinic (with a modern operating room, a pharmacy and an isolation pavilion for infectious patients), which received up to 60 wounded at the same time. The hospital was visited by French President Raymond Poincaré on April 1, 1916, and Madeleine Smith-Champion was awarded the Legion of honor in 1920 for her services during the war.
Renovated in 2006 to house an art center, the castle today comprises a modern exhibition room. Only the hallway kept its original decoration with Ionic pilasters above which visitors can admire early 18th-century bas-reliefs representing war trophies and the crossing of the Rhine.
To visit the MABA (page in French only)