The model farm
The conditions of utility and suitability dictated by agronomists on most model farms were applied to the letter when it came to the creation of Chaumont’s model farm. Agronomic success was also an excellent means of political propaganda and establishing a special relationship with the population as a whole (the local squire distributes advice and Christmas boxes, initiates foundations – rural schools, hospices and so on – and even opens his Château to the public).
The buildings had to be many, spacious and designed to fulfil their purpose (accommodation for cowherds, accommodation for carters, storage of agricultural implements, donkey stables, farmyard manager’s house, garage, electricity factory, pigsty, and so on), each of them located in line with their intended use, in order to meet the human requirements and animals’ needs. They also had to be located so as to ensure conservation of such-and-such a crop and be separated from each other in order to prevent fires from spreading.
The way the buildings were laid out around the yard was dictated by the need for continuous effective supervision. At Chaumont, the main feature was the farmyard manager’s house, a sign of authority for the farm. It was evident that having more than one yard would make supervision impossible or extremely difficult to maintain.
Despite ten years’ work, some of the buildings were never constructed, two examples being the steward’s house, the plans for which were rejected in February 1911, and the farm’s guardhouse. In April 1913, after the main buildings had been completed, a start was made on installing the general piping system, which covered the entire farm, along with the gates to the main entrance, jostle stones and outdoor lighting. In November 1913, the farm was finally up and running.
Work slowed down in 1905, due to the Crosnier sugar market crash that bankrupted the Say Sugar Refining Company as well as Prince de Broglie’s frequent protracted absences from the worksite. Following the Domain of Chaumont’s compulsory purchase from HRH the Princess of Orléans and Bourbon in 1938, the farm became the property of the city of Blois’ welfare office, which ceded it to the RATP’s works council with the idea of turning it into holiday camp centre. All the buildings were completely gutted, with only their external envelopes left standing. Since February 2007, the farm has accommodated the Domain’s administration and its various buildings have been used to host contemporary art exhibitions on a regular basis.