Nothing predisposed Antoine-Joseph Santerre to becoming a hero of the Revolution! Son of a rich family of brewers from northern France, he bought the Hortensia Brewery in 1772 and relocated to 232 rue de la Faubourg-Saint-Antoine, an address that connected with 9 rue de Reuilly through an inner courtyard. After marrying the daughter of jewelers his fortune seemed to be made! However, as of the summer of 1789, he headed the popular revolution in Paris: he participated in the storming of the Bastille and other major revolutionary events. Along with the Pole Claude Lazowski, Santerre was one of the major figures of the sans-culottes group, given that name because they did not wear aristocratic “knee breeches” or “culottes,” but long pants. Commander of the National Guard and a General in the army, he participated in the Vendée wars in western France. Arrested in 1794, he was then released and died a ruined man in 1809.
During the Revolution, 9 rue de Reuilly housed the stables and the garage for Santerre’s brewery. Thanks to a large inner courtyard, they connected with the store’s façade, located on the rue du Faubourg-Saint-Antoine. The Hortensia Brewery was on the cutting-edge of modernity: Santerre, who claimed to have tasted the well water “with his tongue” to verify its quality, installed very costly machines and employed many workers from the neighborhood. Not surprisingly, his popularity had something to do with his business!