Buildings loaded with history
Formerly known as Rue du Chêne, the Rue des Grands Carmes owes its name to the convent of the Fathers of the Order of Mount Carmel, founded in 1268, which was established there. The buildings at number 20 and 22 would have been built in the sixteenth Century. The first written record of their existence comes from a document dated 11 May 1613. This is the deed of sale of these buildings to the painter Octavius Van Veene (1556-1629). Number 24 became part of the property at a later stage.
In addition, these buildings were painted by Denijs Van Alsloot (1570 -1626), a painter from the court of Archdukes Albert and Isabelle, in a painting dated 1616. The painting is kept at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. It describes the procession of the Ommegang (religious procession of the Virgin of the Sablon church, protector of the city, which was honored from 1348 to 1785). In this painting, we recognize the front facade and the gate of buildings number 20 and 22, rue des Grands Carmes and the small house next to it (currently number 24).
Furthermore, a document – deed of transfer of the buildings from Marie Goubau to her daughter Marie Van Bossuyt – dated 1676 – describes it as follows: “…property with stone houses spread around courtyard”. The description fits the current configuration.
The building block of number 20-22 has miraculously survived from the bombing ordered by Louis XIV in 1695 which destroyed most the neighbouring buildings (including the bulk of the Grand-Place) which were rebuilt later.
It was originally a family house “Maison bourgeoise” – the term « Maison de Maître » only appeared in the seventeenth century. The building has had various usage over time; partially used for brewing activities at the end of the seventeenth century, it also housed institutions, shops such as textile trading, manufacturing activities, warehousing… and, more recently, many artistic activities.