[HERITAGE]: The renaissance of Victor Schoelcher high school.

5 October 2022
Crédit Photo : https://www.lyceeschoelcher972.fr/
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In September 2022, Victor Schoelcher high school finally reopened its doors after more than 5 years of renovation and restoration.
Many students will once again be able to walk through the halls, study in a pleasant space and obtain their diploma, just like many people and personalities before them. Described by Aimé Césaire as a “historic building,” it is part of Martinique’s heritage and therefore has significant symbolic importance.

But do you really know the history of this place? If not, it’s time to learn more about this iconic establishment in Fort-de-France.

As its name suggests, the high school is named after Victor Schoelcher (1804-1893), who was a deputy of Martinique for two years (1848-1850) and is known, among other things, for his numerous educational struggles, for public, free and secular education, and for literacy. In 1902, when the school was named, this seemed to be a perfectly logical choice. 


To understand the context, it should be noted that the school was initially located in the town of Saint-Pierre, in the north of Martinique, but was transferred to the current capital, Fort-de-France, at the Caserne Bouillé. In 1902, the eruption of Montagne Pelée destroyed everything in its path: buildings, houses, schools… Everything was affected and only ruins remained.


Following this move, the Victor Schoelcher high school undergoes a second relocation, and its surprising architecture finds itself in the heights of Fort-de-France, at Morne Abellar Abellar, with a breathtaking and captivating view of the bay of Fort-de-France. It was built between 1920 and 1937, a very long period during which the architecture made a sensation.


When the school reopens in January 1937, following the work of architects Jean and Joseph Soupre Soupre and engineer Honoré Donat, it is even adapted to seismic standards. A real feat for the time! But the school is still reserved réservée for boys only, and it will take until 1973 for the school to become coeducational.


However, between 1965 and 1982, a finding was made that the high school was not being maintained and the buildings were deteriorating, unfortunately, visibly. Paint, water leaks, concrete surfaces, everything needs to be repaired.

Between 1999 and 2006, the high school underwent renovations and rehabilitation thanks to a grant of 4.6 million euros. But starting in 2013, engaging works were undertaken to offer the institution a well-deserved massive makeover.

And so in 2022, after five years of works and many delays, the architecture of 18,000 square meters, once surprising, takes an even more incredible and modern turn. The proposed renovations offer those who pass by a sense of wonderment (the place has changed, it’s colorful, it catches the eye!), questioning (what does it look like inside?).


Lastly, let us not forget that this high school has had illustrious personalities of Martinican culture as students and teachers.

Indeed, Aimé Césaire and Léon Gontran-Damas (major figures of the Negritude movement), Edouard Glissant (author of La Lézarde), and numerous writers, politicians, and philosophers from the West Indies were students there. Meanwhile, Joseph Zobel (author of “Black Shack Alley”)), Suzanne Roussi Césaire (writer, notably for the Tropiques magazine and wife of Aimé Césaire), and René Ménil (co-founder of the Légitime Défense and Tropiques), magazines), among others, taught there.
Many great names have succeeded each other in this famous institution and contributed to its radiance.
So, did you know the history of the Schoelcher high school ? Tell us in the comments !

Mélanie NONONE