The heritage of the Fondation Condé

Founded at the time of Louis XIV, the Fondation Condé started as a modest charity hospital. Today the Fondation manages a Centre Gériatrique at the leading edge of progress. A great leap from past to present while remaining true to its initial mission.
The Fondation Condé must also preserve and bring to the attention of the public a historical heritage : works of art, valuable archives, buildings, a chapel, a museum as well as hospital buildings and a social housing scheme.

A long and eventful history

The Princesse’s initiative

The Fondation Condé dates back to 1646 (Louis XIV was only 8 years old !). The Princesse de Condé, also known as Charlotte-Marguerite de Montmorency, set up a charity at Vineuil, a village located in the vicinity of the Château de Chantilly, property of the Condé family. A charity was a hospital run according to the principles of Monsieur Vincent (who was to become St Vincent de Paul). Two Daughters of Charity were to provide health care to the “poor sick”. One of them also taught young girls. When the Princesse de Condé died in 1650, she left an annuity of 1 000 livres to the charity to ensure its survival.

Times were hard and the charity was soon crippled with debts. Anne d’Autriche, mother of Louis XIV, intervened generously. The facility was then enlarged and efforts redoubled to meet increasing demand. A third Daughter of Charity was sent to Vineuil in 1699.

In 1709, the Prince de Condé, the founder’s grandson, left another annuity of 1 000 livres to the charity. He added a sum of 12 000 livres for the upkeep and the expansion of the building.

Royal recognition

In 1711, Louis XIV acknowledged the “pious intentions” of the founder by letters patent. Thus, the charity was formally recognised by the highest authorities as a useful and durable institution. It may be considered as the official establishment of what would become the Fondation Condé.

It was then decided that the charity would be moved to Chantilly, on the premises where the Centre Gériatrique stands today. A site was bought and buildings were constructed. The charity became the Hôpital de Chantilly. The new facility opened in 1723.

A first step towards the geriatric vocation

In 1736, Louis XV granted new letters patent to the hospital. It was decreed that “incurable” (i.e. elderly) patients would be accepted. The special calling of the Fondation Condé took then a concrete turn. Moreover, the guardianship of the hospital was officially given to the prince de Condé and his successors.

At that time, the hospital employed 8 Daughters of Charity and a surgeon. There were 17 “young ones” as the elderly patients were amusingly called and 10 beds were reserved for the sick.

From 1784 to 1786, two new wings were built. There were 25 elderly residents, 10 beds for the sick and 10 beds for wounded soldiers. The large pharmacy, established thanks to a donation from the Prince de Condé, supplied the hospital and was also open to the public.

The revolutionary upheaval

The Revolution was a trying time for the hospital. The Condé family emigrated and the Daughters of Charity were dismissed by the new authorities. Managed by the town council, the hospice (most hospitals had a bad reputation at the time, so the Revolution renamed them hospices throughout France to signal a new beginning) continued to carry out its mission despite financial difficulties.

From 1800, the revolutionary upheaval subsided. The girls’ school was reopened. Abandoned children were taken in. A delivery ward was fitted out. The facility started to accept a number of paying patients.

In 1815, an edict of Louis XVIII reinstated the letters patent of 1736 which had been abolished by the Revolution. The guardianship was given back to the Condé family. This legal acknowledgement, still valid today, is equivalent to a “Reconnaissance d’Utilité Publique”, i.e. a state-approved statute. In 1816, after an absence of 24 years, the Daughters of Charity were called back. A boys’ school was opened. The number of elderly residents increased.

Preservation of the heritage thanks to the Duc d’Aumale

When the last of the Condé died, in 1830, the Duc d’Aumale, King Louis-Philippe’s son, was the sole legatee. As he was only 8 years old, his mother, Queen Marie-Amélie, managed the hospice. She reorganised and enlarged the facility. A sewing room and an orphanage were opened. She built the Chapel of St Vincent which was inaugurated in 1838.

Some years later, the Duc d’Aumale launched the construction of a new building. A nursery was opened. The Hospice Condé played a very significant social role at that time.

The Duc d’Aumale died in 1897 without children. In accordance with his will, the guardianship of the Hospice Condé was given to the Société Civile de la Forêt de Dreux which was chaired by the Head of the House of France, i.e. the heir apparent to the throne. His mission was to “continue the existence of an establishment which was both useful to the country and honourable to those who had founded it and had taken part in it.”

During the Great War, the hospice took in many wounded soldiers. This was a difficult period : the buildings were becoming dilapidated and the financial situation was a matter of concern. In 1918, the hospice specialised in care for the elderly. Yet the pharmacy and the nursery remained open to the public until the end of the 30s.

The renewal under the leadership of the Comte de Paris

From 1949 on, the Comte de Paris, back from exile, devoted all his energies to the transformation of the venerable and dilapidated hospice into a care home at the leading edge of progress. He launched an impressive programme of reorganisation, modernisation and construction.

In 1967, the hospice officially became the Centre Gériatrique Condé. The Daughters of Charity left at the same time, for want of vocations. They had fulfilled their mission with admirable dedication for more than three centuries.

During the 60s and 70s, two new buildings were constructed : a residential care home (the Maison Marguerite de Montmorency) and a nursing care home (the Maison Louise de Marillac). They are still in use today. In 1967, a newspaper ran the headline : the first “centre gériatrique” in France.

The former facilities, facing the Place Omer Vallon and along the Rue de l’Hôpital, were renovated and transformed into social housing. The Daughters of Charity left at the same time, for want of vocations, in 1968. They had fulfilled their mission with admirable dedication for more than three centuries.

During the next years, the Centre Gériatrique Condé operated at full capacity with 180 beds. Services were adapted to demand and demographic changes. In 1982, the chapel of St Laurent was turned into a museum. A feat of engineering had to be performed : the chapel was moved some 30 yards in the process.

In 1982, the chapel of St Laurent was turned into a museum.

Today : an institution still on the move

In 1996, a new policy had to be implemented. Budgetary restrictions were imposed by the Sécurité Sociale and the Département. Quality control as a tool of efficient management was no longer the preserve of the business sector. Fundamental changes were taking place in our vision of healthcare. The patient, elderly or not, was being recognised as a person whose rights had to be respected. This was the new priority.

In 1997, the Centre Gériatrique Condé met the high standards of the “Service Publique Hospitalier”.

In 2000, the nursing care home was enlarged and restructured. The four-bed rooms were abandoned in favour of private rooms. The hospital units became increasingly important.

In 2002, the residential care home became an EHPAD and the Centre Gériatrique Condé adopted its new logo which showed the coat of arms of the Condé, as a reminder of our history.

In 2004, the Maison Marguerite de Montmorency was confirmed as a residential care home for people aged 60 and over. The elderly live longer today and wish to stay at home as long as they can. Our residents are therefore older, with less autonomy. We had to adapt. A new wing was constructed to house 6 new rooms. An Alzheimer unit and a day care unit for five were added.

In 2008, 29 rooms of the long-term care unit were put at the disposal of the residential care unit.

In 2011, due to economic necessity, a new organisation was set up (optimum use of space and efficient use of the redistributed units). The convalescent care unit increased to 30 beds. A new long-term care unit was constructed in a new environment with a wooden façade, secure patios, garden terraces. The same year, a day-care centre for the children of the employees opened.