Policies  of the school

From the Musée départemental du compagnonnage | Saône et Loire

Founded in 1871 by P-F GUILLON Fils in Romanèche-Thorins ( Department of Saône-et-Loire )

The purpose of the Professional School of Stereotomy Applied to Construction is, after apprenticeship, the training of elite craftsmen. It counts among its pupils, from all points of France and even from abroad, distinguished contractors in woodwork and public construction, well-respected foremen, and numerous craftsmen, whose gratitude and recognition were always, for me, one of the best rewards. This Professional Element, called upon today to render so much service to industry, cultivates good design by teaching practical ways to seek all that one can give to work, to insure that the solution to each problem is rational and produces, in construction, a solid and well-thought-out execution. The pupil at the School starts with the elementary study of assemblies, essential to any work; then he draws his first scale drawings, creates a scale model; then, with the same data, realizes the design, in life size, on a building site; thus, while working, he studies the various combinations containing all that is necessary for construction. This teaching as just described, as per my private initiative, has been just recognized by the kind attention of Monsieur the Minister of Commerce and Industry who awarded, following a School competition, a silver and a bronze medal to my pupils; and also by the Regional Society of Architects of the Saône-et-Loire, Ain and Jura with a silver and a bronze medal.

It includes seven courses, of forty problems each:

1st Course
Elementary study of assemblies; floors; sections of wood; bridges and footbridges; stability and resistance of roofs.

2nd Course
Study of straight roof trusses in their invariability of forms, obtained by the combination of triangles and their infinity of cuts according to trigonometry, bevels and inclinations.

3rd Course
Study of the connections of irregular sections and intersections of slopes.

4th Course
Study of curved roofs, in plan and in elevation, and pierced structures.

5th Course
Study of the staircase in general, stone cutting and practical provisions for construction for dwellings of any nature; the principal subject of this course being particularly applied to meticulous studies of staircase placements and passage in rooms. Each problem will be incorporated, by reduced scale, into the interior plan of its corresponding floor.

6th Course
Study of properties of woods, roofs, inclinations of slope, trestles and various combinations, using all the general information of the Courses.

7th Course
Joinery used in construction work.

Regulation of the School

The courses as they are established, shall be followed regularly by the pupils; all the diagrams shall be carried out, to scale, in scale models; in no case is one able to make an exception to this rule, which ensures on the whole, comprehension as a result of studies supplemented by actual construction. The passage from one course to another shall be authorized, before the end of each course, only if sufficient knowledge is recognized by the director by observing the work of each student. IPupils shall be at the school from 7 o’clock to11 o'clock in the morning, from 1 o’clock to 5 o'clock in the afternoon and 7 o’clock to 10 o'clock for evening gathering. The School shall take pupils of at least 15 years of age, and having already served their apprenticeship as they do not do it at the school.

The pupils shall be lodged at the school, and pay a fixed sum of 115 francs per month, this sum includes lessons, food, room, and washing; the price of the day school only is 50 francs per month. Lighting and the supplies necessary to the course of study, shall be paid in addition and vary around a sum of 15 francs per month, the items received by each pupil determines the price. The instruments of mathematics and drawing, the tools necessary to the construction of assemblies and scale models, shall be the property of the pupil or the School, if the pupil does not purchase them; it is preferable that each pupil provides the necessary tools according to his preference; he will be able to obtain everything from the School. Presence at the School is voluntary; time shall be counted only day of the arrival, and the payments shall be made in any case at the end of each month. Any pupil not studying assiduously, or with frequent and unjustified absences, missing applications, who does not provide a sufficient amount of work to ensure constant progress, or by his misconduct, his antipathy, or his remarks, would disturb the good harmony of the School; or whose payments are not made, shall be immediately expelled.

Certificates of studies to the parents of the pupils – Competition

At each end of month, the Director will address to the parents certificates of study, enumerating the problems of the coursework which has been followed and carried out with scale models, the application of the pupil to his demonstrations and progress accomplished. The work done on scale models by the Pupils shall remain at the School for a competition, whose date will be indicated by the Director. All the pupils without exception, shall take part in this competition, including: execution of scale models, drawings and notes on the building site.

For the attribution of awards, a special subcommittee of the Director shall thoroughly examine the appearance and value of each pupil’s work, drawings, assemblies and rate each one, then shall nominate the deserving pupils. The best models of the competition, oneper pupil, shall remain the property of the School and will be kept in the professional museum. Immediately after the competition, by the care of the Director, the work of each pupil shall be sent to the parents, the former having prepared before their departure any packing needed.

The director,
Officier de l’Instruction Publique, Professeur de Traits
Président de Conseil supérieur des Compagnons Charpentiers du Devoir de Liberté,
in ROMANECHE-THORINS (Saône-et-Loire)

Class of 1919-1920

If you are interested in learning about Stereotomy and Art du Trait, consider taking a workshop or an online course.

Below is a compilation of works that permanently reside in the museum

Click on the first picture to start a slideshow


    After Pierre’s death in 1923, his son Osiris Guillon donated his father’s masterworks, all the documents and souvenirs of his life as a Master, and all of the School’s students’ documents and models to the department of Saône-et-Loire.

    The now sanctuary for the Compagnons de Liberte, once the prestigious `Ecole Pratique de Stereotomie Appliquee a la Construction` (School of Applied Stereotomy) which helped train some of Le Traits greatest masters now is a museum of their accomplishments and masterworks.  Pierre’s legacy lives on through the museum and all who admire his work and the works of Art Du Trait. The original museum was built in 1928, then the General Council of the department of Saône-et-Loire had the old museum renovated in 1994, and additional rooms were added for the permanent and temporary exhibits. The exhibit space is used to display the extensive Guillon collection, which has been expanded through donations, bequests, and acquisitions.

“Double staircase with Guitarde underneath”
By Alexandre Morel, 1924
Dimensions: 1,30m x 1,97m x 1,14 m

Source - http://www.balades-bourgogne.fr/fr/culture-technique-et-vie-quotidienne/musee-departemental-du-compagnonnage-pierre-francois-guillon

Alexandre Morel, Lyonnais La Loyauté, named one of the first Meilleurs Ouvriers de France in 1933, a very prestigious award, completed his tutelage under Pierre in 1927. Using the skills he had, Alexander worked in Morocco, Canada, United States, Mexico and Switzerland. Some of his work is on display in the museum.

Joseph Denis Boucher

Source - http://compagnonnage.info/blog/blogs/blog1.php/2012/02/06/joseph-denis-boucher-dit-la-brie-l-ami-du-trait-1836-1911

Octave Veillaud, Child of Genius of Marseilles, student from 1877 to 1879, public works contractor in Marseilles.

Elie Martinel, Child of Genius of Castres, student from 1885 to 1888, public works contractor in Madrid.

J.D. Boucher, student from 1874-76 became chief architect of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the urbanist of Mentevideo, Uruguay.  Published the book “Probleme sur L'Art Du Trait de Charpente au XIX siècle

National Forestry Commission

Source - http://sedlouviers.pagesperso-orange.fr/confetextes/confrthorel/confrthorel.htm

Raoul Thorel

Louis Morel, Loyalty of Dauphiné, student between 1885 and 1888, contract carpenter in Lyon.

Raoul Thorel, Friend of the Drawing of Louviers, student from 1879 to 1880, builder of the Quays of Tancarville in Le Havre and the pavilion of the National Forestry Commission at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris. Became the mayor of Louviers in 1906.

Palace of Decorative Arts; built by Claude Matrat a graduate from Guillon’s school.

Source - http://musee-compagnonnage.cg71.fr

Marcel Ballet, Child of Progress of Bordeaux, he was a student from 1886 to 1888. He became a public works contractor in Bordeaux.

François Duret, student from 1897 to 1899, President of the Chamber of Unions of Contractors of carpentry and joinery in Geneva.

Claude Matrat, Child of Progress of Beaujolais, student from 1878 to 1879, public works contractor, builder of the Palace of Decorative Arts in Paris.

(left) During construction of the arches and vaults of the Saint Sacrement church in Chile

(right) Recent view of the church

Source - https://journalcmo.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/cmo-n324-octobre-2012/#more-533

Victor Auclair

Grandstands equestrian club in Santiago, Chile

His Students

    Many craftsmen, contractors and public works attended the School of Trait at Romanèche-Thorins. Quite often, his students became exceptionally known in their field.

Some of which include:

Victor Auclair, Child of Progress of Bourbon; took over his father’s saw mill when he passed away. He went to Guillon’s school and became an architect and participated in the rebuilding of the towns of Valparaiso and Santiago in Chile after it was devastated by an earthquake. He also built many villas in the same area. He was a specialist that worked with concrete to develop buildings that could withstand future earthquakes.

Pierre with one of his many graduating classes

Source - http://musee-compagnonnage.cg71.fr/

Course Breakdown

1st course: Joinery used in wood construction.

2nd course: Basic study of elementary assemblies for floors, trusses, pedestrian bridges, and they also covered the structural stability and resistance of roofs.

3rd course: Study of straight trusses in all forms, obtained by the combination of triangles and their infinity of cuts according to the trigonometry, angles and slopes.

4th course: Study of regular and irregular roof intersections giving a hip or valley.

5th course: Study of curved roofs, in plan and in elevation, and the intersection of curved structures.

6th course: Study of staircases, stone cutting and practical provisions of construction for dwellings of any nature. The main subject of this course was the meticulous study of staircase placements and passage in rooms.

7th course: Study intersecting pieces, the French trestle and various combinations, using all the information from previous courses.

The School

    After returning from the war in 1870, in which he had volunteered, he founded the “Ecole Pratique de Stereotomie Appliquee a la Construction” or School of Applied Stereotomy in 1871. It was almore commonly known as “The School of Trait”. People travelled from afar to learn carpentry, joinery, stair construction, marquetry, and stone cutting at his school. Pierre-François Guillon taught different types of people including contractors, public works carpenters, future architects, and many construction foremen, many of which have become well known in their fields.

     Each year, twenty or so students came from around the world to learn from him. The School recruited students ranging from 15 to 25 years old. The students, while attending the school, lived on campus for the duration of the program which lasted 3 years and was made up of seven courses. Courses started at 7am and ran till 11am, then restarted in the afternoon at 1pm until 5pm, and again in the evening from 5pm to 10pm. Considering Guillon’s students were required to participate in long school days, and must have completed their apprenticeship prior to enrollment, guild standards were (and continue to be) exceedingly difficult to meet. As exampled below, not everyone has the patience or precision to master the Trait, albeit the possibilities for creation and design are limitless for those who do.  The purpose of “The Practical School of Stereotomy Applied to Construction” was to train elite craftsmen. Students learned how to draw diagrams and execute models, from those models and drawings; they were entered in a competition that was held by the school each year. The best models and drawings remained at the School and were showcased in its museum. The only way that a student could pass on from each course was if the head of the school had deemed that the student had sufficient knowledge and skill.

    Pierre-François Guillon, along with teaching, was also mayor of Romanèche-Thorins in 1898 to 1920. He was also a dignitary freemason, and President of the Higher Council of “The Duty of Freedom”. Guillon died in 1923.

View of the Saint Sulpice church by the artist François Etienne Villeret

Source - http://lewebpedagogique.com/11fsaintjosephistanbul/2013/12/02/asya-et-umut-eglise-saint-sulpice/

Overview of the 1867 Exposition

Source - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Exposition_%281867%29

Pierre Guillon is found in the middle of that years class with a compass in his right hand.
source (http://www.romaneche-thorins.com/personnages.php#guillon)
Pierre Guillon, Compagnon Charpentier du Devoir de Liberte
source (http://www.balades-bourgogne.fr/en/node/26)

(left) - Pierre François Guillon is in the center with some students

(right) - Two students of his showing that years models they built

source (http://www.romaneche-thorins.com/personnages.php#guillon)

    Born in Romanèche-Thorins on June 13, 1848. His father was a master carpenter who he trained with at the age of 15 in 1863. After his early training, before Guillon reached the age of 18, he decided to become a journeyman and had to leave Romanèche-Thorins to do his Tour de France, starting on March 17, 1866. The Tour de France is a several year travelling experience in which participants gain working knowledge as they move between cities and countries..

    Beginning in Auxerre, Guillon would have lived with the head of the guild, the ‘Duty of Freedom’ guild, who would find places for him to work. During the day he would have worked at the position found for him and in the evening, taken classes both of which would help to improve his technical skills. After passing the masterwork (where he had presented his masterwork to an assembly of guild masters who assessed his professional and personal skills) Guillon was accepted into “The Duty of Freedom” guild under the symbolic name Maconnais L'Enfant du Progres (Child of Progress from Mâcon).

    During that time “The Duty of Freedom” guild was separate from the guild known as “The Duty”; which was a guild specifically for the catholic faith. The two guilds have now become one under the name “The Federated Guild of Building Trades”.


    Guillon then went to Paris to work on the 1867 Exposition and the seminary of Saint-Sulpice. In 1868, he continued his work and went through Blois, Angers, Chenonceau, and Tours. In 1869 he returned to his father’s shop in Romanèche-Thorins, where he gave his first carpentry courses.

Pierre-François Guillon with his family in front of his school.

source (http://www.balades-bourgogne.fr/en/node/26)

A recent front view of Pierre Francois' school of "trait" in Romanèche-Thorins. It now is home to the

'Musée départemental du compagnonnage'.

source (http://www.officiel-galeries-musees.com/musee/musee-guillon-du-compagnonnage)

Worker's University

The school of Trait: Romaneche-Thorins

    This little village in the department of Saone-et-Loire, right in the middle of the Beaujolais, some ten miles from Macon, is of great interest to anyone intrigued by journeymen traditions. This charming and peaceful town is home to a museum devoted to the glory and achievement of an extraordinary journeyman: Pierre Francois Guillon, the indien of Romaneche. His is a story of workers' universities.

source - ``The Artisans and Guilds of France`` by Francois Icher p. 91  2000 Harry N. Abrams