The building, also called Hotel of the Chamber of Commerce, was built between 1760 and 1765 on plans designed by Pierre Hue, a Bridges and Roads engineer. It comprised two wings defining an inner courtyard, connected in 1785 by an elegant gallery with columns. It remains a lasting sign of the city’s prosperity and of the flourishing maritime trade the Protestant traders and shipowners initiated in the 18th century.
Founded in 1719, the Chamber of Commerce was always run alternately by Catholics and Protestants. Despite the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, the activity and the wealth of the ‘religionists’benefited from extensive toleration from the authorities.
Among Protestant residents, Jacques Rasteau was first to own a boat and leave for Louisianna in 1731, then Jehan Seignette who belonged to an ancient family of famous doctors and apothecaries, and also Pierre Gabriel Admyrauld, one of the greatest Rochelais traders in the 18th century, who sent ships to Canada and Santo Domingo as well as to France and the Bourbon islands and even to the East Indies. In the 19th and 20th centuries Théophileas Bahut, Pierre-Wladimir Môrch and his son Christian Môrch played a crucial role in creating and developing La Pallice harbour.
Progress in the tour
A walk through Protestant La Rochelle
As early as 1546, La Rochelle was one of the major cities in the kingdom won over to the Reformation.
La Rochelle had been an economic and maritime power since the 12th century, and did business with all the Protestant Northern states, namely England, the Netherlands and the Hanseatic cities.
In 1628, La Rochelle was taken by Louis XIII’s troops which ended Protestant supremacy of the city.
Upon the revocation in 1685 the inhabitants left the city massively. In 1802 there were only a thousand Protestants left.
The Protestant memory is still very present in La Rochelle, see the Rochelais museum and the tour around the city.