History of the House
The House, built on five levels with a belvedere, overlooks the old town of Saint Peter Port and Havelet Bay. Entirely redecorated and furnished by the poet, everything here bears witness to the exile's creative genius. A “three-storey autograph, a poem in several rooms”, according to Charles Hugo, a work of art in its own right, the house immerses visitors in its own special ambiance. Victor Hugo gave his house a symbolic dimension, with references to his writings, philosophy and vision of the world to be found in every part of it.
Banished from France following Louis Napoleon Bonaparte's coup d'état on 2 December 1851, he was also expelled from Belgium in 1852 and from Jersey in 1855. He then settled in Guernsey where he bought Hauteville House in 1856, with the proceeds from the sale of his collection of Contemplations. Hauteville House remained in the family until 1927, when it was donated to the City of Paris to mark the centenary of Romanticism by Victor Hugo's granddaughter, Jeanne Nègreponte, and the children of his grandson, Georges Hugo.
The Only House He Ever Owned
Hauteville House was the only residence that Victor Hugo actually owned, as the writer rented his lodgings in Paris. In 1927, it was gifted to the City of Paris by his descendants: granddaughter Jeanne, and the three children of his grandson Georges who died in 1925, Jean, Marguerite and François.
This generous donation, which included the estate and the décor of the house in its entirety, fulfilled the wish expressed by Georges Hugo in July 1914 at the inauguration of the poet’s statue in Candie Gardens on Guernsey. He hoped that “France should become the guardian of Hauteville House, as she is the guardian of all the monuments that belong to her history”.
In June 1927, a solemn ceremony attended by the family and numerous representatives from Paris and Guernsey marked the official transfer of ownership of Hauteville House to the City of Paris. Together with the collections of the museum on the place des Vosges, these venues form an exceptional literary and artistic heritage.
After serving as a family home for Victor Hugo and his descendants, Hauteville House will now be open to the public for part of the year, and closed for maintenance work for part of the year, to preserve the building and its extremely fragile collections.
In 2013, the City of Paris museums were grouped together under one Public Institution, Paris Museums
Hauteville House, along with the other 14 museums located in the capital, is benefiting from this new dynamic. A vast renovation project is planned for 2018, made possible by the patronage of the Pinault Collection Foundation. Based on detailed, historical research, using old documents and photographs from the period, the renovation work will restore Hauteville House's colour, form and transparency, as well as the coherence of its décor.