For Sale: Marie Curie’s House
Posted: July 1, 2021
Who will buy this old stone-and-brick house in France? If Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki gets his way, the country of Poland will become the proud new owner. He says the building is part of Polish history. Why? Because Madame Marie Curie spent her holiday weekends here.
Have you heard of Marie Curie? She was a Polish woman who worked endless hours in a leaky old shed. An incredibly gifted scientist, Mrs. Curie studied metals. She noticed: The metals she experimented with were releasing rays. These rays could pass through solid matter. They caused air to conduct electricity.
“Sometimes I had to spend a whole day stirring a boiling mass with a heavy iron rod nearly as big as myself,” she wrote. But that work paid off. After four years, Mrs. Curie and her husband had discovered a new element: radium. The Curies won a Nobel Prize for their discovery.
This historical leaky shed was in Paris. But it wasn’t here, at this house. This house was built in 1890. Pierre and Marie Curie visited it on weekends and holidays between 1904 and 1906 with their daughters Irene and Eve. There’s no evidence Mrs. Curie did any experimenting here.
The vacation house costs $950,000. That’s a big price tag for a home in disrepair. Whoever buys it will have to fix it up. That will cost about $240,000 more. But check out the peeling wallpaper. Inspect the fireplaces and floor tiles. All of these date back to the Curie times. Did Mrs. Curie paint some of the ceiling designs herself? Maybe. But there is no certain proof.
The Polish people feel proud of Mrs. Curie’s accomplishments. But should the Polish government spend taxpayers’ money to buy the house? Some Poles say, “No! Mrs. Curie didn’t even spend that much time there!”
Marie Curie was born in 1867 in Warsaw, Poland. She started out as Maria Sklodowska. Universities in Poland did not admit girls when she was young. So Maria moved to Paris in 1891 to study science. She married a French man, Pierre Curie. During her lifetime, Mrs. Curie won two Nobel Peace prizes. She discovered two elements: radium and polonium. She named polonium after her homeland, Poland.