This ceramics producing group dates back as far as the 1830s. It was once the largest producer of ceramics in Europe. Even though the factory is now abandoned and destined to be redeveloped into a series of luxury apartments, its heritage – a collection of approximately 60.000 earthenware objects depicting the history of Sphinx – will keep its memory alive forever.
ECI has an impressive history. As early as in 1798 watermills were built on this site, that was later on equipped with a large paper mill (in 1807), constructed by Burghoff, Magnée & Co. After the paper mill was sold to a potato factory about a century later (in 1908), the first (hydro-electric) power station was erected on the site. Only a few decades later, in 1926, the buildings changed hands again and ECI (Electro Chemical Industry) was born. Although the buildings were bombed during WW2, the site was soon rebuilt once the war ended only to be left abandoned by 1974. Nevertheless, as the new millennium started, many of the buildings were reconverted into offices and also a new –slightly smaller- hydro-electric plant was built.
In 1905 architect Jozef August Jacobs got assigned to design a glass factory and manor-house right next to the Belgium-Netherlands border. Jacobs was the first inhabitant of the house as he became head of the factory. He later started a phosphate factory in the surroundings too. After WW2 and the difficulties with the border, things started to turn bad. In 1927 Jacobs leaves the manor-house and moves to Ghent. The new owner of the house, Bel, only stayed in it for a short period. Afterwards the place was used by Boy Scouts, until it got abandoned in 1951.