The Rose House
Manara, Beirut 1880 - present
1.The Rose House: A Breif History
The Rose House is a 19th Century mansion in Ras Beirut, which was transformed into a public venue for the arts by British artist Tom Young for 3 months from November 18th 2014 to January 30th, 2015. It is more commonly known as ‘The Pink House’ or ‘La Maison Rose.’
The new owner, Hicham Jaroudi has promised to renovate the building, and attend to urgent structural repairs- although work has not started yet.
2. Ardati -
The Rose House was built by Mohammad Ardati in 1882. He built the upper 2 floors of this house on top of his vaulted hunting lodge- which is a much older structure.
The Ardati family, and the closely related Daouk family lived in the house for the first few decades of the 20th Century. During this time, several dignitaries came to stay- such as General De Gaulle.
The Ardati family leased the first floor of the house to several people in the 20th Century, including the British Doctor Arthur Dray (who started the AUB School of Dentistry and was murdered in 1926 in mysterious circumstances) from 1911-1920, and the American Cultural Attache Russ Linch and his family from 1959-1964.
From 1963-4, the American abstract painter John Ferren lived upstairs. Before coming to Beirut, Ferren was a close friend of Pablo Picasso's in Paris. He stretched the canvas on which Picasso painted 'Guernica'.
3. El Khazen -
One of Mohammad Ardati’s three sons, Adil Ardati leased the ground and first floor of the house to the El Khazen family from 1965-2014.
The artist, interior architect and designer Sami El Khazen lived and worked on the ground floor- transforming it into a world famous interior. Sami’s parents, Sheikh Salim and Sheikha Margot El Khazen lived on the first floor. Sami’s sister Fayza lived with them from 1965-6 before she got married and then went to live in the Mathaf area.
Shortly after the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975, Sami and Fayza El Khazen went to live in Paris. Their mother, Margot stayed on living in the house throughout the war, whilst their father Salim El Khazen lived mostly in the family home in Faraya.
Sami El Khazen died in Paris in 1988. Fayza came back to Lebanon to live in the house in 1997 to look after her mother, who had become paralysed. During this time, Fayza established the publishing house ‘Terre Du Liban’- operating from the first floor of the house.
4. Jaroudi -
The owner Adil Ardati eventually passed away without having any children. The Ardati family lawyer sold the house and surrounding land to the property developer Hicham Jaroudi- who owns the Riyadi Sports Club under the house. Margot El Khazen died in the house in 2011. After that, Fayza El Khazen was given 2 years to leave.
In April 2014, artist Tom Young knocked on the door. Fayza El Khazen invited him in to paint. He set up a studio in the house in June. Over the next 5 months, he painted in the house as Fayza was packing to leave. Concerned about the future of the building after Fayza’s departure, he contacted Hicham Jaroudi to propose he use the house to do an exhibition. Jaroudi gave Young his blessing for the project. Fayza El Khazen left the house in October 2014. She now lives in Achrafieh, Beirut.
5. the Young Exhibition
Tom Young staged this exhibition as an appropriate context for his work, and to give the public a chance to see inside this precious place for the first time. He is showing how empty disused buildings can live again as a public cultural places- which are particularly valuable in a city which suffers from sectarian divides and rampant destruction of heritage.
He saw his intervention as a continuation of the artistic life which has always flourished in the house.
The exhibition opened on November 18th under the patronage of the Prime Minister of Lebanon's wife Mrs. Lama Tammam Salam. There were a series of cultural events during the exhibition, such as improvisational theatre by Nadine Sures, musical performances by Daniel Balabane, Ribal Rayess (Escape To Venus), Arthur Satyan and Maya Hobeika.
Tom Young also used the house as a venue to hold art workshops for students from ALBA and AUB Universities, children from local schools IC and ACS, the Home Of Hope Orphanage, SOS Children's Villages and for refugee children.
Since Young’s exhibition, the building has been vandalised and left open to the wind and rain to further deteriorate the already fragile structure. Despite a media campaign started by Tom Young and An-Nahar newspaper to spotlight the problem and persuade the owner to attend to basic repairs, urgent work on the building have not started.
- Credits of this Special Archive, from the Beirut Archive Index to Tom Young