L’Avenir Social Orphanage of Orgemont

L’Avenir Social Orphanage of Orgemont
21st of January, 2012

This exploration took place in the children’s home “L’Avenir Social” located in the Orgemont burgh, part of the Cerny municipality in the region of Essone, near to Paris.
This expedition was the most eerie I experienced for the weight of the place’s history as well as the events that occured could be felt very quickly. The wandering of around ten hours within the various buildings and areas was tinged with a sad and heavy atmosphere.

The children’s home of “L’Avenir Social” is not just a mere abandoned place. It is also the story of a destroyed utopia and (re)-sacrified children.

The history of this place begins in the 18th century with the construction of a castle in the Orgemont burgh, which will be passed from owner to owner. It will fall into the hands of the Protestant church in the 1960s which will turn it into a theological center. At that time, the center consisted of what is called the “Castle of Orgemont”, a large but more modest house just beside it, and outbuildings: a chapel, a small building overlooking the street, a small greenhouse. And, of course, the gigantic park.

In 1906, in Courrières (Pas-de-Calais, northern France), a firedamp killed more than a thousand miners, including 200 children, and left many more orphans. This disaster will have major social consequences and will lead to some advances in labour law. It will also inspire Madeleine Vernet, educator and anarchic activist, revolted by the exploitation of children, to create “L’Avenir Social”, a refuge for orphans located in Neuilly-Plaisance (Paris region). The idea of this refuge is to help children grow up in a positive and educative environment rather than seeing them disappear under the weight of work in the mines.

Until its demise, “L’Avenir Social” will undergo three periods.

The association will grow regularly and therefore had to move several times. This development will require more and more funding, leading to the participation of associations and unions, including the CGTU (Confédération Générale du Travail Unitaire – General Confederation of Unitary Labour, future CGT – Confédération Générale du Travail – General Confederation of Unitary Labour). Mechanically, these associations will gradually take control, ousting Madeleine Vernet.

The orphanage, a tumbledown house in Villette-aux-Aulnes, now too small and decrepit, needs a new domain for its home. The CGT, which fully controls the association “L’Avenir Social”, publishes leaflets and sets up models to convince its activists to make donations for their cause. It was in 1969 that the CGT bought the Orgemont estate.
After a harvest of donations exceeding expectations, the emblematic and brutalist concrete buildings were created, to the east of the site, as well as various developments: parking, administrative prefabs, tennis courts to the west and in the park, enclosure and an animal park welcoming ponies and deer.
The center will officially open in June 1976.
The famous concrete buildings are not just simple blocks placed there at random. The notion of independence is well thought out. On site, a kitchen allowed you to heat your dish, or prepare it yourself. You could then eat in a large refectory or reach your room by taking your food on a cart through a covered alley. The rooms, individual, had WC and shower, which at the time was a luxury for the children living there.

It was in 1987 that things began to escalate, when the CGT (which owned the place) came into conflict with the working staff (mostly CFDT – Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail – French Democratic Confederation of Labour). The educators accused the CGT of proselytizing, while the latter blamed them for having moved away from the original concept of the shelter for indeed it welcomed children of the DDASS (Direction Départementale des Affaires Sanitaires et Sociales – Departmental Directorate of Health and Social Affairs), and no longer only children of workers. This also gave a certain financial independence vis-à-vis the union, which was frowned upon.
A strike broke out on January 5. The CGT then used methods of intimidation to break the movement. Cut off from the world, the thirty or so people had to take refuge in the staff quarters, whose spiral metal staircase can still be seen today.

On January 13, 1988, at four o’clock in the morning, the CGT security service attacked the site and kicked everyone out, including the children. Trash bags were thrown at them asking them to take their things and leave the premises. The separation was brutal. Some children went to the police in tears, others were placed in the DDASS and some ran away on motorcycles…

In one night, the work of many years was broken. On the same day, alerted by various authorities, the prefecture of Essonne took immediate precautionary measures:
“The closure of the “Maison des Enfants de Travailleurs” located at the Castle of Orgemont in Cerny, managed by “L’Avenir Social”, is pronounced on a provisional basis.”

The home transferred to Orgemont twelve years ago will never reopen…

For twenty years, the site, abandoned, deteriorates. In 2007, a rehabilitation project saw the light of day to transform it into a very high-end closed residence.
How ironic… The social utopia, sacrificed, is in the process of becoming an utopia for the rich… A period of cleaning sees the disappearance of most of the traces of life still there, but the project does not go further.

The site then returns to its barely disturbed torpor, while the children’s laughter has been replaced by the icy wind…

I like to attempt to tell a story with my Urbx photography set and to orient the view into a journey within the decayed places that I visit. I hope that you will enjoy the experience and get the feel of the adventure related by my photographs.
NB: All the photographs are available for print purchases. If you are interested, you can contact me directly.

Path of the Forgotten

Little House in Misery

Little House in Misery Entrance

Little House in Misery Bathroom

Little House in Misery Bathroom One More Step

Little House in Misery What’s that Noise?

Little House in Misery Chamber

Little House in Misery Chamber Detail


A Warm Morning in the Ruins

House of the Rising Sun

Can you Hear?


Trapped in Depth

Trapped in Depth ViewPoint

Cuckoo’s Nest

Glance of a Creature

Nest of a Creature

Nest of a Creature Alternate

Egg of a Creature

Tea Leaf

Without Sugar

Cornered Rainbow

A Cosy Shelter LeftView Diptych

A Cosy Shelter RightView Diptych

Naked Engine

Naked Engine Detail

Super 11SL LargeView

Super 11SL

Super 11SL CloseUp

Super 11SL Detail

Something’s Wrong Here


Unbalanced Detail

Stuck in Pain

Rear Window



The 39 Steps


Dial M For Murder


Psycho TopView

Passing Through

Come On in my Kitchen

Come On in my Kitchen Cooking Plates

Come On in my Kitchen Gas Storage

Come On in my Kitchen Thermostat

Dinner is Served

Dinner is Served OppositeView

Wavering Pistil

Woman in the Wall

Hope on Many Levels

Hope on Many Levels Alternate

A Few Steps to Heaven

A Few Steps to Heaven LargeView


Rooftop Hiding

Rooftop Hiding Pipeline

Rooftop Hiding Saw

Rooftop Hiding Window

Rooftop Hiding Entrance

Only Two Choices

Silent Room

Where is Timmy?

Escape Staircase

Escape Staircase Above

Escape Staircase Above Detail

Thin Blue Line

In the Open


Altar Alternate

Altar Sideview

Ritual Place

Ritual Place CloseUp

Ritual Place Entrance

Three Worlds

Old Idea

Broken Flow

Devil’s Lair

Devil’s Lair Inside

Empty Vein

No One Can Imagine What’s There

U.F.O. Mark

There are Flowers in Urbx

There are Flowers in Urbx OppositeView



What’s on the News?


Observer Detail

Little Ghost

Painting Rewind

Roller Coaster

Roller Coaster Descent

Dancing Leaves

Little Explorer

House of the Breach

House of the Breach Corridor

House of the Breach Detail

House of the Breach Talisman

House of the Breach Leak

House of the Breach Living Room

House of the Breach Hungry Wall

House of the Breach Hidden Corner

House of the Breach Escape

Lost in Peace

Lost in Peace Inside

Lost in Peace Spirit


Last Room

Last Room Alternate


Slimer’s Playground

Wall Mistaken


Follow the Light

Floating Block

Floating Bridge

Floating Mosaic

Cold and Warmth

Lost Highway Quadriptych

An Teal the End

Uncertain Chances

View of the Forgotten

NB: All the photographs are available for print purchases.
If you are interested, you can contact me directly.

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