Built in 1906 in the mould of the luxury hotels of Lausanne and Montreux, and bankrupted one year later, the Hôtel Moderne is a remarkable testament to Belle Epoque architecture.
The Grand Hôtel Moderne is the most remarkable testament to Belle Epoque architecture in Bulle. In 1902, Henri Finks, a local ironmonger, ordered plans from prominent architects: the Lausanne-based practice of Georges Chessex, and Charles-François Chamorel-Garnier, whose constructions included in particular Broc chocolate factory (1897-1920) and the Lausanne-Palace hotel (1912-1915). The developer invested his entire fortune in this venture.
Opened with great fanfare on 4 February 1906, the Moderne included a café-brasserie, a skittles ground, spacious lounges, 21 bedrooms and a large auditorium with galleries. It was the only luxury hotel ever built in the canton and probably one of the shortest-lived the world has known: the establishment went bankrupt at the end of 1907. It was purchased by the State Bank, which established its Bulle branch there and kept the hotel open for several years. The large hall was used as a cinema in the 1910s. The building’s outward appearance was simplified in the 1930s, as can be seen by comparing the existing building with old photographs.
The Musée gruérien, founded in 1917, was installed in the Hôtel Moderne from 1923 to 1978, when it was moved to the present-day building. The Belle Epoque luxury hotel was lucky to escape demolition. Today its rooms are apartments. The auditorium still exists but is not open to visitors. The ground floor, which previously housed the Museum Café, has been home to a succession of public establishments through to the present day.
© Musée gruérien and Cultural Heritage Department of the canton of Fribourg
Find out more
Aloys Lauper, “L’architecture hôtelière de la Belle Époque”, in Le Tourisme, Cahiers du Musée gruérien, n°3, 2001.
Aloys Lauper, “La Belle Époque des architectes. Les transformations de Bulle entre 1890 et 1910”, in La Gruyère dans le miroir de son patrimoine, T.2, Éditions Alphil, 2011.
Anne Philipona, “Château médiéval ou Hôtel Moderne? Le Musée gruérien se cherche des murs (1917-1974)”, in Le Musée gruérien, Cahiers du Musée gruérien, n°7, 2009.
Carmen Buchiller, “Le Moderne, un patrimoine menace”, in Le Musée gruérien, Cahiers du Musée gruérien, n°7, 2009.
The Moderne circa 1910.
© Charles Morel Musée gruérien