The History of the Samana Beauséjour Coffee Plantation
Understanding the heritage of Guadeloupe
The Habitation Caféière Samana Beauséjour and its coffee trees, known as Caféière Beauséjour or Habitation Gros Morne, is a former Habitation caféière from the 18th century.
The word "Habitation" (plantation) is overused today, many use it to name a modern construction, and in this, distorts the historical part of the word.
A Habitation is above all linked to an old colonial property, an agricultural exploitation using slaves, in English "plantation" on which was built a brick or wooden house called "master's house". This building was constructed of red wood so as not to be attacked by termites.
According to Danielle Begot: "Caribbean habitation is a land domain whose raison d'être is the development for speculative purposes of land which will never be land, and which has found in the cultivation of cane its most perfect expression". (Factories and dwellings-sugar mills, Three centuries of Martinican industrial heritage. Heritage Office of the Regional Council of Martinique, 1989, p. 27.)
Generating society, it is both a production unit with its buildings, its “staff”, and the basic unit of the slave society.
Consequently, if for Danielle Bégot it is a question of a “spatial reality” requiring the most efficient occupation and mastery of space, it is above all an organizing system, structuring West Indian society.
From then on, a clear distinction is now made in the habitat between the master's house and the slave huts.
The history of the estate, from the Caféière Beauséjour to the Habitation Samana Beauséjour
The Habitation Caféière Samana Beauséjour, called Habitation Caféière Beauséjour or Gros-Morne dates from the end of the 19th century.
This house is one of the oldest in Pointe-Noire. It is oriented East-West on a dreary (hill) at an altitude of 295 m. It dominates the entire Pointe-Noire region, both on the Caribbean Sea side and on the mountain side.
Formerly framed by an outdoor kitchen, which served as anticyclonic shelters, the house has superimposed galleries. Part of this gallery was unfortunately destroyed by a former owner in the 90s in order to create an extension.
The walls and the frame are entirely made of mahogany and courbaril wood, and the essentes (front tiles) are made of mountain guava wood. The posts supporting the cladding of the extension created in 1995 are in country pear tree with northern wood cladding. The floors are in pitch pine wood.
The pitch pine is a conifer, native to Florida and the Mississippi basin, reaching an average of 25 meters in height and with yellow wood with a reddish vein. Less expensive than exotic wood such as teak, pitch pine is used in cabinetmaking for the manufacture of fancy furniture and in carpentry for that of parquet floors under Napoleon III.
This house is the only testimony to the history of this property. After much research, it turns out that there has never been a coffee dryer (boucan) supposedly completely destroyed during the passage of Hurricane Hugo in September 1989.
On the other hand, we discovered that it was in fact another building which had been partially destroyed in 1989. There was indeed a much more imposing colonial house with a more noble tendacayou wood frame than that used for the present building. Today the beams of this colonial house have been recycled into posts supporting the carbet of the catering area.
This discovery leads us to think that the Caféière should not have been the main building of the Habitation but an agricultural building or the house of the "gereur" (foreman). It is indeed built at a lower level than the old destroyed colonial house. In colonial times, the so-called "Master" house was always positioned at the highest level of an estate.
The history of the estate since 250 years - from 1765 to the 21st century
Around 1765-1775, the map representing Pointe-Noire indicates the existence of a modest dwelling, at the exact location of the current Habitation Caféière. The listed owner is Mr. Dessources. This is Pierre Félix Gosse Dessources (born January 10, 1731 in Pointe-Noire), married to Cécile Millard on July 1, 1753 in Pointe-Noire.
The latter died and the succession was settled between 1773 and 1779. According to research by the Fond Parisis, the estate had 60,000 coffee plants and 30,000 outside the estate. The main dwelling has 60 squares and has 18 slaves. Cassava, peas and maize are also grown there.
A violent cyclone caused damage in 1776. During the division, the house went to 2 of the 3 sisters, one Marie-Catherine Cécile, a minor and single, the other, Marie-Magdeleine, wife of Séraphin de Blaine. It is the husband who takes the dwelling on a farm lease.
We have to wait until the middle of the 19th century to find traces of this dwelling, through the succession of Mrs. Widow Charles Lesueur passing to her many children who sell portions in 1878 and 1879, as well as in 1884 and 1887.
In 1901, there are two heiresses, Aurélie Lesueur and Pauline Lesueur, wife of Pierre François Wilfrid Pagésy.
Aurélie sells her share (1/4) to the couple for the value of 4,000 Francs, which indicates that they are 4 co-heirs and that the Pagésys now hold 50%. The estate is then 47 hectares. It is mentioned that this property is composed of a main house and outbuildings.
In 1928, during the passage of the GREAT cyclone, the latter damaged part of its facilities and led to a reduction in its coffee-growing activity.
During the 20th century, the property was purchased by the Duflau family. Coffee production ceased at this time.
In 2010 it became a private property, artists' residence until 2018. From that date you know the rest!
Find the Habitation Caféière Samana Beausejour in heritage books
Housing listed p124 of "Patrimoine de la Guadeloupe"
HC editions 2017
Housing listed p30-31 & 40 of "Maisons des Antilles" par Michael Connors
FLAMMARION editions 2007
Housing listed p 164/165 of "La Guadeloupe et ses trésors - Le patrimoine archéologique de l'île papillon"
ERRANCE editions 2010