During the early days of the French Mandate for Lebanon, Charles De Gualle who was still a commander back then was among the army units that were assigned to Beirut at that time. He used to serve at the Grand Serail and was looking for a place to stay with his family within a close proximity, so he rented the first floor of a house owned by Elias Wehbe in Mar Elias.
Over the years, and despite being owned by people of Al-Hoss family, the house has always been known as Charle De Gaulle’s place because of a marble plaque fixed above the door saying “Here lived commander Charles De Gaulle. November 1929 – January 1932”. I even sometimes refer to it the same way when providing directions for someone to a nearby place.
The house has been vacant for many years now and is poorly maintained, but I was quite surprised yesterday to come across a photo by Khaled Hamadeh on twitter showing that the plaque has been removed, which could possibly mean that there might be plans to demolish it and I really hope it isn’t the case.
With the current property prices in Beirut nowadays, I totally understand it might be unfair for the owners to be forbidden from bringing down the house to make way for a new building to earn some really good money, that’s why there should be a plan by the government or municipality to buy these old houses/building to either just preserve them or turn them into small museums. But then again, in a failed state it’s much easier said than done, so I really don’t want to be in the shoes of the current owners!
The second photo is taken by Ginane Bacho
The governor of Beirut Ziad Chbib posted on Facebook that the house owner removed the plaque because he was afraid that George Abdallah supporters might vandalize it. It is currently in the hands of the ISF and will be restored to its place, which simply means that the house is safe!