The Bishop's Palace, a long history

From the fourteenth century onwards, the building served as a refuge for St. Bernard's Abbey in Hemiksem. In 1570, the property was converted into a bishop's residence. From 1778 until 1781, Engelbert Baets converted the premises into a classical palace. The French requisitioned the building in 1795, using it as a building for the administration. Napoleon stayed there on several occasions. After his defeat, the building was used by the administration of the province. First by the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, subsequently by the kingdom of Belgium. The province left the building in 1980 but is currently using the hall for its board meetings in anticipation of the completion of the new building in Koningin Elisabethlei. Today the bishop lives here again.

The eighteenth-century frontage of the governmental hotel was completely redone, with the exception of the fa├žade on the streetside in Schoenmarkt. In 1877, a new council chamber was built in the place of the chapel and the orangerie, under the supervision of the provincial architect Eugeen Gife. In 1905, Louis Gife designed a new entrance and hall, cloakroom, stairwell and sanitary facilities for the council chamber.

The buildings in Geefstraat suffered substantial damage as a result of a V2 bomb in December 1944. In the Fifties, the most damaged sections of the building were demolished for safety reasons. The striking archive building that engineer T. Lebens built here in 1851-52 for the province was spared however. The inner structure, which is completely made of iron, is quite unique for this era.

The Palace circa 1920