Château d’Ivernois

March 9th, 2016

In the 16th century, there stood in the heart of the village of Môtiers the house of Claude Baillod, châtelain of the Val-de-Travers, where in 1617, Prince Henri II d’Orléans-Longueville was a guest during one of his journeys to his principality of Neuchâtel. In 1720, the banker Abraham d’Ivernois of Môtiers, having made his fortune in Paris, acquires the domain and commissions Antoine Favre, architect in Couvet, to carry out a new construction, based on the plans of the Parisian architect Aubry. Hand-hewn stones, timber beams and a big fireplace are reutilized in the new building. Completed in 1724, and without doubt inspired by the Parisian hotels with courtyard in the front and garden in the back, this noble manor in the Régence style responds to the best architectural canons in Europe at the time, by both its disposition and its facades.

The two rural outbuildings adjoining the cour d’honneur, mainly a vast barn dated 1721, recall the importance farming had for the Château in those days.

Subsequent owners carry out restorations and additions, in particular a manège (riding hall), built in the Château’s park in 1856.

In the course of the centuries and being in the hands of refined and cultivated châtelains, the Château welcomed many an illustrious guest, amongst whom the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau when he lived in Môtiers from 1762 to 1765.

In 2002, its new owner, the Burkhardt-Felder Foundation Arts and Culture, undertakes extensive renovations, lasting until 2006. Desirous of highlighting the beauty and uniqueness of the domain, the restorations are carried out with respect and in harmony with the original structure. Two of the main outbuildings are transformed into museums. As a result, the barn dating from 1721 and called La grange houses today a collection of Australian Aboriginal art whereas the riding hall in the park, built in 1876 and called Le manège features a permanent collection of rare and exceptional motorcars.

Today, the Château d’Ivernois in Môtiers enjoys the privilege of being called « an architectural jewel of the 18th century » (Jacques Bujard, Curator of Historic Buildings for the Canton of Neuchâtel) and is recognized by the Swiss Confederation to be of national interest.

© Fondation Burkhardt-Felder Arts et Culture 2015