The history of Bassam Lahoudís house in
Amsheet (Amchit) by Bassam Lahoud
Lahoud house in Amsheet has been built over remains
left by thirteen civilizations.
The oldest relic is a cave hewn out of the rock
probably around the 3rd century, one where the first
Christians use to hide and pray.
The next remains are from 760 A.D. (the 8th century)
and represent a Jewish settlement composed of a
synagogue, a cistern for water and a graveyard.
The Jews were the bankers of the Abbasids and remained
here till 960 A.D..
The next layer marks the arrival of the present
three oldest families of Amsheet, the Karams, the
Kallabs, and the Obeids, who came from the north
and settled permanently in this area. They built
the church of Saydet al-Bayader, which stands in
front of the Bassam Lahoud house.
The Shiite Hamadeh family ruled over this area from
the 15th century till 1730, when they were driven
out by Prince Youssef Shehab. Part of the Lahoud
house was built at the end of the 17th century and
has slits in the eastern and southern walls through
which arrows or guns could be fired for defense
against the invaders.
From that time the Maronite families began to trade
and became some of the most powerful merchants in
Lebanon. Among these enterprising individuals was
Lahoud Mansour Obeid, born at the beginning of the
18th century, the ancestor of the Lahoud family.
He began to buy a great deal of land, including
the plot around the church and around the house,
to create the Lahoud quarter.
His eldest son, Fares Lahoud, became one of the
three most powerful traders in Lebanon, the other
two being Michael Toubia and Beshir Junblatt. He
enlarged the upper part of the house at the beginning
of the 19th century, making the shape of the house
His son Michael Fares Lahoud in the second half
of the 19th century added another part to the house,
so that now there was an enclosed courtyard and
a gallery with fifteen arches in lace pattern giving
on to the east and the south. At the same time parts
of the caves were incorporated into the newly built
The house was hit by two major earthquakes, one
in 1860 and the other in 1918. The part added by
Michael Fares Lahoud was particularly affected,
resulting in large cracks in the added section and
in the gallery.
During the Second World War, in 1940 his son Fares
Bey Lahoud decided to restore the house, but unfortunately
instead of keeping its basic structure he pulled
down most of the walls and built two houses in place
of the old one, using the same stones. He had four
sons and had thought of leaving two of them one
house each, although this project was not finally
realized. His eldest son, Judge Michael Fares Lahoud,
inherited the two houses that you can see today.
Since 1988 his son Bassam Michael Lahoud, architect
and restorer, has restored the 800m2 caves and transformed
them into an art studio, Atelier Bel.
In 1998, he founded the Lebanese House of Photography
and established in the Atelier Bel an exhibition
area and a museum of photography.
The next project is to be the restoration of the
old house as it was before 1940 by joining the two
houses up again to become one, and to transform
the property into a public ground (Inshallah!)
- Bassam Lahoud's house: >> View
Movie << (2013-10-15)