From Porcelain to Pedagogy


Dating back to ca. 1745, 4 rue de Chevreuse (now called Reid Hall) housed a porcelain factory. Its Left Bank location took advantage of underground kaolin deposits, and the factory thrived thanks to the burgeoning global market for Parisian ceramics. In 1799, as revolutionary France began to consolidate itself as an empire, the three Dagoty brothers leased the factory and expanded the premises after being named official providers to Empress Josephine. By 1812, they employed over a hundred workers. Dagoty porcelain was known worldwide, appearing not only at the castles of Compiègne and Versailles, but also in the United States, notably at state dinners hosted by President James Monroe, in which a full service featuring a patriotic American eagle was on display. As the Dagoty brothers expanded the premises, the main building came to resemble what exists today: a ground floor, two upper floors, and an attic lit by seven casement windows that look out onto the street, and seventeen others overlooking a cobblestone courtyard.


In the 1820s, as the Parisian porcelain market flagged and the Dagoty firm moved its production out of the city, the buildings on rue de Chevreuse housed an Orthopedic center for approximately ten years. It was overseen by Charles-Amédée Maisonabe whose controversial methods led to the decline of his establishment. In 1834, 4 rue de Chevreuse underwent its first conversion to international education. It became the home of the Institut Keller, a boarding school and pedagogical center led by the Swiss Protestant educator Jean-Jacques Keller. The first such institution since the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, it welcomed well-to-do French Protestants and visiting foreigners, and encouraged them to entrust their “young gentleman” to the establishment’s strict discipline. Charles King, President of Columbia College at the time, left his son there while the family toured Europe in 1865, and the 17-year-old André Gide attended the school in 1886, an experience he later described in Si le grain ne meurt. The Keller Institute closed its doors in the late 1880s.

A Residence for Women