The estate of current Château de Pontchartrain was mentioned first time around 1325. The original manor was abandoned in the 16th century. Paul Phélypeaux was the king's counselor in 1610 and the founder of the Pontchartrain branch of the Phélypeaux family, who kept the chateau for two centuries. His son Louis I Phélypeaux had the main building built between 1633 and 1662.
Louis II Phélypeaux de Pontchartrain, Jean's brother, assumed the name of the property, where he assigned brother François Romain and André Le Nôtre to raise the chateau and in 1693 to design a magnificent park. After his wife died he was grief-stricken and resigned all his offices, which contemporaries thought he had never seen according to his friend Saint Simon. He retired to Ponchartrain, where he died.
After the chaos of French Revolution in 1801 the Duchess of Brissac sold Pontchartrain to the industrialist and speculator Claude Caroillon Destillières, a leader of the 'Black Band' syndicate of businessmen enriched by the Directory who specialized in the purchase and liquidation of the great aristocratic estates. He had the gardens transformed from the French style to that of an English park by the fashionable landscaper Louis-Martin Berthault. When Claude Destillières died in 1814 his huge fortune and land holdings passed to his daughter, Aimée Caroillon des Tillières.
In 1817 Aimée married the Count and then Marquis (1838) Rainulphe Eustache d'Osmond, aide to the Duke of Angoulême, whose older sister Adèle d'Osmond, Countess of Boigne, spoke of the library at Ponchartrain in her memoirs. The painter Jean-Baptiste Isabey, who taught Aimée d'Osmond drawing and was her friend, had his room in the chateau, where in 1815 he produced views of the interior.
In 1857 d'Osmond's son sold the estate to Count Guido Henckel von Donnersmarck for his mistress Esther or Thérèse Lachmann, called La Païva after her marriage in 1851 to the rich Marquis Aranjo de Paiva, a cousin of the Minister of Portugal in Paris. This rich young Prussian aristocrat, a cousin of Bismarck, had the house restored by the architect Pierre Manguin. His mistress had it redecorated and renovated the park where she created vistas and planted rare species. The local peasants were scandalized to see her galloping in the park dressed as a man.
The chateau was bought by the financier, industrialist and collector Auguste Dreyfus (1827–1897). In 1932 Drefus's heirs sold the estate to the Lagasse family, who in 1940 had the central pavilion pierced with an archway leading to wide steps connecting the courtyard to the gardens. The castle is now owned by a private company.
The castle was built around the middle of the 17th century following the traditional U-shaped French plan, featuring a central building behind the courtyard, which was enclosed with two wings, and surrounded by a moat. The main building includes a gallery, probably built between 1598 and 1609, providing communication between the two wings, an unusual arrangement - where the central body serves as a link - reminiscent of the Château d'Écouen, and is probably the result of successive stages of construction. This central body was rebuilt in 1738 and remodeled in the late 19th century by Boeswillwald, who has doubled in depth the garden side. The axial pavilion was pierced in 1940 by a vaulted passage, somewhat anachronistic.
The wings are composed of three pavilions connected by an elongated body. They are built of brick and stone, brick being used as a material following an approach that is also found in Château de Grosbois and the Château des Mesnuls. It is possible that the main apartments were in the left wing and the servants or commons in the right wing. In front of the central pavilion of the right wing, a bridge spanned the gap to provide access to the backyard. The stables and important outbuildings were built in the early 18th century, probably by brother Romain. The chapel was in the left wing, accessible by a gallery on the ground floor in the alignment of the main building. In 1703 it was replaced by an octagonal room, probably by brother Romain, but the Dreyfuses used another chapel according to Pringué. The gallery that leads to the chapel dates to 1653. This gallery-salon arrangement was repeated symmetrically in the right wing by Boeswillwald.References:
Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace in Berlin and the only surviving royal residence in the city dating back to the time of the Hohenzollern family. The original palace was commissioned by Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Friedrich III, Elector of Brandenburg in what was then the village of Lietzow. Originally named Lietzenburg, the palace was designed by Johann Arnold Nering in baroque style. The inauguration of the palace was celebrated on 11 July 1699, Frederick's 42nd birthday.
Friedrich crowned himself as King Friedrich I in Prussia in 1701 (Friedrich II, known as Frederick the Great, would later achieve the title King of Prussia). Two years previously, he had appointed Johann Friedrich von Eosander (also known as Eosander von Göthe) as the royal architect and sent him to study architectural developments in Italy and France, particularly the Palace of Versailles. On his return in 1702, Eosander began to extend the palace, starting with two side wings to enclose a large courtyard, and the main palace was extended on both sides. Sophie Charlotte died in 1705 and Friedrich named the palace and its estate Charlottenburg in her memory. In the following years, the Orangery was built on the west of the palace and the central area was extended with a large domed tower and a larger vestibule. On top of the dome is a wind vane in the form of a gilded statue representing Fortune designed by Andreas Heidt. The Orangery was originally used to overwinter rare plants. During the summer months, when over 500 orange, citrus and sour orange trees decorated the baroque garden, the Orangery regularly was the gorgeous scene of courtly festivities.
Inside the palace, was a room described as 'the eighth wonder of the world', the Amber Room, a room with its walls surfaced in decorative amber. It was designed by Andreas Schlüter and its construction by the Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram started in 1701. Friedrich Wilhelm I gave the Amber Room to Tsar Peter the Great as a present in 1716.
When Friedrich I died in 1713, he was succeeded by his son, Friedrich Wilhelm I whose building plans were less ambitious, although he did ensure that the building was properly maintained. Building was resumed after his son Friedrich II (Frederick the Great) came to the throne in 1740. During that year, stables for his personal guard regiment were completed to the south of the Orangery wing and work was started on the east wing. The building of the new wing was supervised by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, the Superintendent of all the Royal Palaces, who largely followed Eosander's design. The decoration of the exterior was relatively simple but the interior furnishings were lavish. The ground floor was intended for Frederick's wife Elisabeth Christine, who, preferring Schönhausen Palace, was only an occasional visitor. The decoration of the upper floor, which included the White Hall, the Banqueting Hall, the Throne Room and the Golden Gallery, was lavish and was designed mainly by Johann August Nahl. In 1747, a second apartment for the king was prepared in the distant eastern part of the wing. During this time, Sanssouci was being built at Potsdam and once this was completed Frederick was only an occasional visitor to Charlottenburg.
In 1786, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew Friedrich Wilhelm II who transformed five rooms on the ground floor of the east wing into his summer quarters and part of the upper floor into Winter Chambers, although he did not live long enough to use them. His son, Friedrich Wilhelm III came to the throne in 1797 and reigned with his wife, Queen Luise for 43 years. They spent much of this time living in the east wing of Charlottenburg. Their eldest son, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who reigned from 1840 to 1861, lived in the upper storey of the central palace building. After Friedrich Wilhelm IV died, the only other royal resident of the palace was Friedrich III who reigned for 99 days in 1888.
The palace was badly damaged in 1943 during the Second World War. In 1951, the war-damaged Stadtschloss in East Berlin was demolished and, as the damage to Charlottenburg was at least as serious, it was feared that it would also be demolished. However, following the efforts of Margarete Kühn, the Director of the State Palaces and Gardens, it was rebuilt to its former condition, with gigantic modern ceiling paintings by Hann Trier.
The garden was designed in 1697 in baroque style by Simeon Godeau who had been influenced by André Le Nôtre, designer of the gardens at Versailles. Godeau's design consisted of geometric patterns, with avenues and moats, which separated the garden from its natural surroundings. Beyond the formal gardens was the Carp Pond. Towards the end of the 18th century, a less formal, more natural-looking garden design became fashionable. In 1787 the Royal Gardener Georg Steiner redesigned the garden in the English landscape style for Friedrich Wilhelm II, the work being directed by Peter Joseph Lenné. After the Second World War, the centre of the garden was restored to its previous baroque style.