In 1876, Théodore Houben, an industrialist who had founded a leather currying workshop in Verviers, bought the Communal Oven, at the foot of the Roche à Lomme (Lomme Rock), to create a tannery in order to prepare the hides and supply his Verviers factory with leather. The huge oak forests nearby, as well as the presence of the 3 waterways providing hydraulic power, made it an ideal location.
The business thrived and enjoyed its heyday in the interwar period. From 1953 onwards, with the removal of the dam on the Viroin, the water supply became more uncertain. Finally, due to growing pollution of the Eau Noire (Black Water) on its way through Nismes, which had the effect of rotting the hides, the tightening of environmental legislation on chemicals used in tanneries, and the increase in competition, the tannery shut down in 1981.
Some of the buildings were then used to farm crayfish. That did not last long. Today, the grounds are part of a high-density housing project.