On November 22nd of every year, the Lebanese celebrate their country’s Independence Day and the memory of those heroic men who fought for their country with fierce determination and selflessness with one and only one united aim: Its independence.
It was built in 1890 and was the place where talks of Lebanon’s independence first started, and the place where the first Lebanese government, the Free Lebanon State, was formed.
Lebanon’s Independence House is also the first place where the first national flag was raised after Lebanon gained independence from the French.
The house belonged to a leader in the town of Bchamoun, Hussein El-Halabi, and was renovated in 2014 after years of neglect.
Em Samir, Hussein’s daughter, preserved the house and welcomed its visitors for more than half a century.
One of Bchamoun’s families, the Hassan family, took it upon themselves to renovate this house, which is an important part of Lebanon’s history and heritage… that is after governments failed to do so.
And in detail, the Free Lebanon State was formed after the French Mandate authorities arrested President Bechara El-Khouri, PM Riad El-Solh, a number of ministers, and one of the deputies in Rashaya Castle.
The free government was based in Bchamoun and included Prince Majid Arslan, Speaker of Parliament Sabri Hamadeh, and Minister Habib Abu Shahla. These men arrived in the town looking for a site for the government that the French could not reach.
That’s when Sheikh Hussein Al-Halabi invited them into his home that became the place for their regular secret encounters. When warned that he could get arrested and his house destroyed to the ground, Al-Halabi uttered a patriotic statement that became a famous quote attributed to him:
“Whoever built the house can build another one… The important thing is that Lebanon remains.”
The Lebanese flag was raised for the first time on November 19th, 1943, and it is still hung today at the front of the house, preserved in a frame.
The renovation of this historic house was executed by architect Ramzi Abu Tarya and his wife Mona, also an architect. Their work also included the maintenance of the weapons used in the battle of independence and showcasing them on the walls.
The Municipality of Bchamoun took care of the work on the outdoor backyard.
The big oak tree at the entrance marks the spot where several battles took place between the French soldiers and the men of independence.