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A house with a soul The Guillotine mill After the war

   

A house with a soul [ top ]

The house of Balegem is a unique country house with an old soul; it dates from 1798. Initially it was built as a farmer’s house, along with the stone corn mill of Balegem, the Guillotine Mill, also built in 1798. The house and its mill have been built in one straight line, for it had to be possible to watch the movements around the mill from the house. In 1927 the house and the mill came into the possession of the miller Louis Meersschaut and his wife Sidonie, the grandparents and great grandparents of the current proprietresses of the house.

Louis had gained the house from his mother Victorine Van Den Broucke, after her untimely death. Victorine had acquired the house from her aunt, Ange De Rouck, who was the proprietress of the farm and the mill mid 1800.

We are now the fifth and sixt generation to inspire this house: after Louis, it was his youngest daughter Cecile who acquired the house and started the renovation in the nineteen seventies. She at her turn sold the house in the millennium year to her daughter Rein and granddaughter Maud. It is to be noticed it were and are women and daughters, except for Louis of course, who maintained the house.


Victorine van Den Broeck
Victorine van Den Broeck

   
   

Louis Meersschaut & Sidonie Impens The House of Balegem, end 1940 The House of Balegem, 2008

   
   

Louis Meersschaut & Sidonie Impens The House of Balegem, end 1940 The House of Balegem, 2008

   
   

The Guillotine mill [ top ]

The name of our street is not a coincidence: Mill street. Ask in the village of Balegem for the stone mill and elderly people will respond: which one? Therefore use its well-known nickname, the Guillotine Mill. During the construction of the mill there would have been a deadly accident when a worker was swept away by one of the sails. This story was told over and over again at the mill’s house: be careful children; never walk under the sails! Maybe it is an old village legend, but no one really knows.




The Guillotine Mill in Balegem

   
   

After the war [ top ]

Until 1951 Louis Meersschaut grinded his corn and the grain that the farmers brought him. During the war he had gained every one’s respect, because he had milled all the little quantities of grain the people had brought to him. He never gave back a smaller bag of flour, even if the mill was being robbed several times by a pack of thieves.

After the war times changed, with the rise of the industrial mills in Ghent and Oudenaarde. The small and independent miller could no longer cope with the factories and the family moved away to their more modern farm in nearby Oosterzele.

The house in Balegem was left and ever since the mill hasn’t worked anymore. Because she wanted it to be preserved, Cecile, daughter of Louis, sold the mill in 1975 to the Flemish government, who immediately protected this giant. But until today this unique piece of industrial architecture is not being properly renovated, nor put open to the public. The house got a new élan when it was let to a practitioner, and won an award for ‘successful renovation and preservation of the local history’ in 1976, from the ‘Kredietbank’.



The Guillotine Mill in Balegem, 1950

   
     

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