When we first met this house, in my native village, it had been dormant for more than 20 years. It had been left almost untouched since the death of its last inhabitant, a lonely old woman without children known as La Crabette.
Her nickname came from her being known to walk the hills accompanied with her goats. She was said to bring bad luck and if you met her in the woods while hunting you could go home immediatly because that day you would catch nothing. Tales would say she was somehow a bit of a witch.
The house was still full of her, and of her past when she was still Maria, living there as a child with her parents, there were even objects from before her times: remedies advertisement from the 19º century lying in the dusty loft, household expenditure diaries, rusty tools to attend the fields, old pharmaceutics glass bottles, newspapers from 1909.
There was in the corner next to the fireplace lots of old papers and cards to be burnt, there we found in the pile a small letter from a world war I soldier written in pencil, saying nothing much but sending his regards to the child Maria.
Clearing the house took a while. Tracing back the history would be a long investigative work. The house itself dates maybe from the 16th century and probably was an échoppe, the old french word for shop, maybe selling meat as the street name may suggest, Rue des Grandes Boucheries.
The house had already be altered a number of times. The roof had been raised maybe during the war of religion to create more storage space in case of a siege, the stairs are a clear later addition from the 19 century, and were certainly not in there current location.
When the renovation works were finished a ceremony was organised to refresh the house's soul and make peace with its long history and the last of its inhabitant, la Crabette.
Contractor: Entreprise Parra Fils