The savages of these islands, called Caribs, either male or female, go naked, wearing their hair behind their heads, long down to their waists, and their front hair down to their eyebrows. They pluck the beard hairs, and when it's too thick they shave it with a certain reed which, when wet and bent, shaves as well as a barber's razor. Almost every morning they rub themselves with a red paint called couchieue, which, when soaked in oil made from palm nuts, keeps them fresh and preserves them from the heat of the sun, as well as being a beautiful ornament without which they wouldn't dare visit each other. They are short rather than tall, but strong, dexterous and robust. Both men and women have handsome faces and are not subject to any natural defects [...].

Excerpt from the Carpentras Manuscript, accounts of a French buccaneer (anonymous) in the West Indian Sea in 1618-1620

In the early days of colonization, while settlers were mainly to be found in the west, the east coast of Martinique was home to the Caribbean Indians, including the present-day commune of Sainte-Marie.

In 1659, following their extermination, the widow of former governor Jacques Du Parquet donated the land of Fond-Saint-Jacques to the Dominican fathers, in order to build "a convent, a church and a sugar mill". This dwelling, including the current site of the Maison d'Ô, was marked by the personality of Father Labat, who arrived in Martinique in 1694. It prospered until the French Revolution.

In the early 1920s, the mayor of Sainte-Marie obtained authorization from the governor to build a tannery on the seafront, at the mouth of the Saint-Jacques River. The location was ideal for this water-intensive activity.

Anecdotally, one of my uncles remembers going there on horseback with my grandmother, who frequently bought leather there. She used it to make bags, which provided her with additional income while her husband was away at war.

In 1979, Mr. Félix Lee-You was authorized to set up a dance hall in the former tannery building. The heavy sledgehammer, witness to the past, would remain there until the end, accompanying the dancers' antics with its stubborn immobility. The dance hall is called "Le Gaoulé", a term chosen because it means "gathering" in the Caribbean language. The Creole meanings of the word, including "heckling", "dance" and even "licentious excess", express its nature even better. After becoming a nightclub as a result of lexical trends, it was closed for good in 2007 following the devastation caused by Hurricane Dean.

In time, it gave its name to "rue du Gaoulé".

On October 9, 2009, we acquired the land and buildings, which had become unfit for habitation. From this history, the Maison d'Ô has retained the site of the old tannery and the immutable sledgehammer.

An identical piece is still in use in the tannery of shoe maker WESTON: