The history of the Société de Lecture is closely linked to that of the individuals who shaped its destiny, the books in its collection, and the historic Geneva townhouse it calls home.
This handsome ‘hôtel particulier’ in the style of Louis XV had a long and turbulent history at the time that the Société de Lecture took possession, in 1818. The building that preceded it had been the site of a fierce rivalry over a chapel, in which the Sun-King had played a central role. More than a century later, Napoleon III briefly graced the Société with his presence. If these walls could talk, the stories they would tell…
‘Several friends of learning joined us,’ Candolle wrote in his Memoirs, ‘and eventually twelve people came forward to found the institution.’ These scholars and intellectuals are: Pierre Prévost, Gaspard De la Rive, Nicolas-Théodore de Saussure, Jean-Gabriel Eynard, Etienne Dumont, Jean-Marc-Jules Pictet-Diodati, Jacob Duval, François Duval, Guillaume Fatio, Guillaume Favre and William Saladin de Crans.