Colonel Robert Smith ( 1787-1873 ), soldier of the Engineers, stayed around thirty years in India and in Malaysia where he built neogothic churches, restored local buildings and made his fortune. In 1856, he bought in Nice a vast piece of land of 22 000 square meters, at the end of mont Boron. Between 1856 and 1858, he built a vast and complex residence which the Inhabitants of Nice, struck by its unusual appearance, called " the Castle of the Englishman ". In fact, Smith, keen on eclecticism, mixed Gothic, Rococo, neo--Moghol. The merlons were directly inspired by the Red- Fort of Delhi which the colonel knew well because he had restored it. Towers, platforms, pavilions, terraces, vast public studio, majestic stairs, ornamental lakes, plantations due to great quantities of earth brought on the cliff characterize the vasteness of the project and the importance of the means brought into play. In 1875 , two years after Smith's death, his son sold the property to the family Gurowski de Wezel who made alterations and sold the castle after the Great War. From then on, the Castle of the Englishman, alternately abandoned, threatened with demolition, converted for a time in luxurious restaurant, changed several times hands, before becoming after the Second World war a co-ownership . Today, the building, registered on the supplementary inventory of ancient monuments, has become a familiar and typical element of the landscape of Nice.

Thevenon Luc : Les Folies. Fantaisies architecturales de la Belle Epoque à Nice, Serre Éditeur, Nice, 1999.

Ralph SCHOR

 

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