At no. 186 Rue Martainville, indicated by a sign “Aitre St Maclou” is this delightful building that doubled as a school and a cemetery. It was only in 1651 that the southern wing was built, where the school was to be in the area behind the statue of Our Lady. The other three galleries had been constructed between 1527-33. Between 1745 and 1749 the headstones were removed and the lower story of the present building was constructed. Previously this was an atrium, the upper stories being on “stilts,” and the wealthy were buried at ground level below the second story while the poor were buried in the yard itself.
Beginnings in 1705
Brother Ponce was transferred here from Darnetal in 1705 as the first director. De La Salle himself is said to have taught here to replace a sick Brother. The first president of the Normandy Parliament and the Archbishop of Rouen visited here, probably in 1706. Many stained glass windows in Lasallian schools throughout the world recall this visit which won the admiration of the Archbishop of Rouen for the pedagogy of the Brothers.
Burials & Teaching Cease
It was only in 1781 that the dead were no longer buried here. It 1791, it ceased to be a Brothers’ school and then became workshops. The Brothers returned in 1819 only to leave again in 1905. Between 1911 and 1920, it was a girls’ school. In 1927, it became the property of the city of Rouen. Currently it houses the School of Fine Arts. The “Danse Macabre” on the frieze of the buildings in the courtyard can still be seen, including the temptation of Adam and Eve, and carvings of a monk, priest and cardinal. Most of the sculptures were damaged in 1562 by the Calvinists.
Panoramic view inside the Cloister of St. Maclou
- The school that was located here experienced all of the challenges of cramped, city life. What similar challenges might one find in a contemporary inner city school location?
- Dedication to teaching the poor is often exhausting, with little reward. How is it that the Brothers were able to maintain that dedication for years on end?
- Is teaching the poor only a one-way street? What can we learn from the poor?