The ‘Red House’’ is amongst the oldest houses in Ras Beirut. It is distinguishable by its bright red shutters and white walls, and is one of only two houses in Hamra that still retain their traditional red roof tiles. Within its walls reside traditional archaves and the original tiles. It remains a symbol of a different era, in the concrete jungle that Hamra has become. In recent years Hamra’s ‘Red House’ has come under threat when, due to a family dispute, the owners evicted the residing tenants and moved to demolish this hidden treasure.
The first story of the ‘Red House’ was built in the 1970s, and the Raheiz family added the second in the 1800s. The Raheiz family settled in the area in which modern Hamra now resides 400 years ago, and gradually rose in stature in Lebanese society and bought land across Hamra. By the time they bought the ‘Red House,’ the Raheiz family represented one of the most prominent Orthodox families in Ras Beirut.Read More
Since then, the house has been frequented by an array of Beirut’s elite. Most notably, throughout the 1900s the ‘Red House’ was a hub for influential figures: from politicians, to socialites, to musicians (most notably world renowned Jazz musician Louis Armstrong in the 1960s). Unlike many other historical buildings in Hamra, the ‘Red House’ remained relatively untouched throughout the civil war. It would be such a waste and an additional loss to Beirut’s remaining tangible cultural heritage if it were allowed to be demolished, and replaced with yet another concrete block. After the tenants were served their notice of eviction, an online campaign was started in order to preserve the ‘Red House’ and to not allow it to be demolished. In response, after extensive research and an official report by the General Directorate of Antiquities, the Minister of Culture classified the house as a heritage site in November 2016, meaning it could not be demolished. However, a few months after this classification was made, there was a change in ministry and the new Minister of Culture overturned the categorization of the house as a heritage site for an undisclosed reason. In response, NAHNOO and Save Beirut Heritage took legal action against the decision of the Minister to overturn their de-classification of the ‘Red House’ as a heritage site. The Higher State Council declared the decision of the Minister to de-classify the ‘Red House’ unconstitutional, and thus the decision was overturned. We are currently eagerly awaiting more information regarding the future of the ‘Red House.’Read Less
Preserve the ‘Red House’
Finding a use that could make it accessible to the public
November 2016 the ‘Red House’ was classified as a heritage site
Winter 2017 declassified as a heritage site
2017 The Higher State Council dissolved the latter decision of the Ministry of Culture to declassify the House