Brief History of the Building
The “Hotel Particulier” in which the Embassy of Liberia in Paris has been located for the last 56 years was designed by the architect, Galand and was built in 1879 by contractor Brochon for Mr. Jacques Simeon Valentin, its first owner, on land he had bought on December 2, 1876.
The “Hotel Particulier” comprised two buildings with a total area of 651 square meters: the first building located at number 12 of what was then Malesherbes Square and which today, has been renamed General Catroux, Square and the second building constructed at 8 Jacques Bingen Street in the Plaine Monceau neighbourhood.
The Malesherbes Square building utilizes cut stones from the Paris rock quarry which was the preferred choice for building constructed during the Haussmannian period, at the end of the 19th Centruy. It was then composed of two square floors, and a paneled third floor which included a billard ‘game’ room adjacent to a gallery which had a glass ceiling. The third floor also provided quarters for the servants.
Jacques Simeon Valentin, the original owner, dies on October 4, 1881. His brother, Roger Victor Valentin, inherits the property then sells it on August 12, 1902, to Mr. Frederic Simon, a manufacturer, and a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour.
The Latter cedes it to it’s last French owner, Mr Auervach in February 1913.
H.E. J. Emery Knight was accredited as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Liberia to France on December 2, 1952 (106th year of Independence of the Republic of Liberia) by the President of Liberia W.V.S. Tubman.
During those days, the Liberian Embassy was located close to Paris, in Boulogne-Billancourt, 15 bis Victor Hugo Avenue.
On August 11, 1953, Ambassador J. Emery Knight traded the Victor Hugo Avenue building for the “Hotel Particulier” located at Malesherbes Square and Jacques Bingen Street, and in addition paid on behalf of the Republic of Liberia 61,575,000 ancients francs, which is equivalent today to 93,870.48 Euros.
The Jacques Bingen street building then became the Chancellery (the official offices of the embassy), and the General Catroux Square building, the Ambassador’s residence.
Today, the official Residence of the Liberian Ambassador to France and the Chancellery are located in the General Catroux Square building because the Chancellery at 8 Jacques Bingen Street was illegally sold in 1991, during the Liberian civil war. In addition to serving as the official residence and Chancellery, this “Hotel Particulier” also houses the Consulate and the Permanent Delegation of Liberia to UNESCO.
Like most of his predecessors, the current Ambassador and staff remain determine to preserve the integrity of the place. Thus, the embassy is beautifully decorated and furnished with Napoleon III and Louis-Philippe furniture.