Lignières: Then and Now

Lignières: Then and Now

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Move mouse over image for contemporary view; move mouse outside for historical image.
If image doesn't change, click image to toggle between “then” and “now” views.

A little past la cure we come to an intersection where the Rue des Hautes-Bornes goes off to the left and we meet Rue du Montilier; let's proceed down the latter, at the far end of which Fourmilab stands today.

This post card was mailed in 1910. At that time, this was the entrance to the village for travellers arriving from Le Landeron or Neuchâtel. Rue du Montilier remained the main through-route until the bypass road was built in 1968. The view from the Chasseral shows the village before and after the bypass road, which is visible at the left in the “now” picture on that page. Today, the bypass road is credited with allowing the centre of the village to preserve much of its rural character.

There have been some substantial changements in this part of the village since 1910, but most of them are behind the camera; we'll see them once we proceed further down the street and look back this way. One change which is immediately apparent is the fountain at the left of the photo. While most of the rest of the items in the “then” and “now” images line up pretty well, the fountain is way out of whack. There's an excellent reason for this, namely that the fountain in the “then” photo was demolished sometime after this picture was taken, apparently due to the construction of a side street which is visible only in the “now” photo. A new fountain (RACN 010-6456-00286), built to replace it, is located closer to the camera. This fountain bears the date 1918—eight years after this card was mailed. The building just visible at the left of the “now” photo didn't exist in 1910; it wasn't built until 1912, and the garage is a still more recent addition. The perspective in the “now” picture is a little different because due to a contemporary building behind the camera location, I had to take this photo a little further up the street than the original photographer's location.

There have been fewer changes on the right side of the street; the first three buildings look much the same from the outside, while the roof of the fourth has been remodeled and the attached structure on the near side entirely rebuilt. The church, visible in the distance, looks much the same but this masks an eventful history which we'll get to when we arrive there. The Café du Commerce (Rue du Montilier 2, RACN 010-6456-00052) is to the right, with the attached house (Rue du Montilier 4, RACN 010-6456-00240), which is built on an angle (not very apparent from this viewpoint) so as to not extend into the road, which curves at this point. Next is the Petitpierre shop (Rue du Montilier 6, RACN 010-6456-00238), now a residence. We'll be seeing more of all of these structures and exploring their history as we continue down the street.

As is frequently the case in “then” pictures from this epoch, everybody has come out onto the street or to the windows to get into the picture; note the kids lined up behind the fountain and the fellow in uniform (postman?) in the middle of the street. Isn't the sender's penmanship on the back of the card below just gorgeous?

Back of post card

Map of viewpoint

The historical photograph is courtesy of M. Werner Löffel of Lignières, who kindly contributed images of his post card collection to the archives of the Fondation de l'Hôtel de Commune de Lignières.