In1931, Villa Cavrois, a 1ow-stung, yellow-brick mansion in Croix, a suburb of the French city of Lille, was heralded as the masterpiece of Robert Mallet-Stevens, an architect who built extravagant Cubist follies for avant-garde aristocrats. Today, humbled by graffiti and rust, it looks like an abandoned factory.
Richard Klein of the Association de Sauvegarde de la Villa Cavrois, a grass-roots preservation organization, says. the dilapidation is the fault of the villa’s present owner. The developer abandoned the property after the French Government declared the house a historic monument, a move that blocked his plan to bulldoze the villa for tract housing. Unfortunately, money doesn't come with landmark status. Nor much protection, it seems. Despite the Govenment's demand that the developer make repairs, windows remain broken and doors gape -vandals and weather participating in a sort of passive demoiltion.
« It's a disaster now, but it is amazing how much remains in spite of the utter decrepitude, » said Michael Webb, a writer who reported the villa's plight in Metropolis magazine. "The bones of a ravishing house are still there. »
To support a Cavrois-awareness program, Mr. Klein and his staff are selling commemorative postcards (below) and are soliciting donations. The association is at 68 rue Jules Guesde; 59170 Croix, France.
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