Anybody who has seen this house in its original location will hardly recognise it as it now stands in the Museum. The building, after undergoing alterations over the years, has been restored to a form corresponding to that of the ideal farmhouse of the Jura highlands. The house has been stripped of much of its individual history in order to give it another, more general kind of history.
The oldest parts of this house date back to the year 1617. This large multi-purpose building was built in a favoured place of settlement in La Recorne, above the present industrial town of La Chaux-de-Fonds.
It unites all the essential features of the Jura farmhouse. It is a multi-purpose building with stone walls made of Jura limestone.
An arched doorway opens into a hallway that provides access to the living quarters and the stalls. The «sous-grange» serves simultaneously as a cart shed, storage area and workplace. In its interior, the farmhouse is an all wood post and beam structure. A whole range of beams supports the shingled roof.
Access to the barn is via the ramp at the rear of the house. The large attic space contains two box-like rooms. A grain storehouse is used for keeping grain for flour, animal feed and seed. A small room provides accommodation for servants and harvest workers.
A long, dark corridor leads into the living quarters. A large part of rural daily life took place in the kitchen. This one has an impressive large wood chimney that is responsible for removing smoke from the hearth fireplace, the parlour heating stove and the baking oven.
Presumably, the whole parlour was newly done-up around 1788. Panelling was added at this time, which continued to be changed and added to up until the 20th century.
Above all in the living quarters are the economic and social changes of the 18th century made visible. Clock- and watchmaking brought wealth and a cosmopolitan ambience to the Jura highlands.
The house from La Recorne mirrors part of the Jura regionís economic history. In the early 17th century, the inhabitants lived above all from what they could produce themselves. They planted grain and had few livestock. Granaries and threshing floors survive from this time. At the end of the 17th century, dairy production and animal raising became more important in the Jura highlands, which led to the building of a large cheese cellar in the house from la Recorne. The hard cheese was primarily exported to France.
One generation later, cottage industry appeared. Before the arrival of clock- and watchmaking, lace was made in the farmhouse parlours. An exhibition in the house shows the development of clock- and watchmaking from the time of the cottage industry up until the change to a factory-based industry in the 19th century.
Natural sources of water in the Jura highlands are limited. Creeks barely reach the valley floor and rain seeps quickly into the porous limestone. The population is, therefore, forced to catch water in reservoirs. The ideal solution was found in the cistern from La Chaux-de-Fonds NE (No. 112), into which the water flowing from the roof was led via wooden gutters and channels. Sunk into the ground under a grass-covered vault and lined with a thick layer of clay, the cistern provides protection from the heat of the sun, evaporation and contaminants.