Official residence of the Mayor of Amsterdam
Former mayor Job Cohen:
"The mayor is obliged to live in this opulent, historic, but also quite loaded house. It is odd to imagine what life in this city palace must have been like centuries ago, for instance without central heating, running water and sewage."
A house was originally built here in 1672 by linen and wool merchant Paulus Godin, an administrator of the Dutch West India Company. The ‘stark style’ suggests it may have been designed by architect Adriaan Dortsman. Originally, there were two large warehouse doors either side of the main entrance, as it was used for storage as well as a residence. It remained unchanged for 120 years, when Andries Deutz, Godin’s great-great-grandson, had it thoroughly renovated, adding marble columns to support a balcony, and cellar doors and windows replaced the warehouse entrance. Current mayor, Eberhard van der Laan, got the keys in 2010.
Resident Rob Labadie:
"Although I was not born here, I do feel like an Amsterdammer, which is why we seized the opportunity to exchange Den Bosch for the capital with both hands. We were not only lured in by Amsterdam, but especially by the top two floors on offer in this gem of a building: the top space is no smaller than 120sqm. And the house has kept its promise. It effortlessly fits in with our collection of art objects from around the world. Moreover, all the details from the past make the present such a delight."
Amsterdam jeweller and art dealer Hans van Wely bought two plots of land on Herengracht in 1614, but before he could develop them, he was murdered in the Hague. Around 1620, his widow had two identical houses built as an investment. This one was extended in 1728 by its then owners, turning it from a merchant’s house with storage space (as most canal houses originally had) into a grand home in opulent Louis XIV style.
Museum Willet Holthuysen
Conservator Dr Bert Vreeken:
"This small museum stole my heart from the very beginning. We are trying to restore the interior to the style that the last residents provided it with. Whenever there are funds, we conduct restoration works on the interior and at times that there are none, we ‘supress’, which is to say we camouflage combinations that ‘clash’."
Constructed in 1687, later residents included noble families such as governor Jean Deutz. Final resident, Sandrina Louisa Geertruyda Willet-Holthuysen, died in 1895. Her will gave the home to the city on the condition it was opened to the public as a museum. See www.willetholthuysen.nl for hours.
Museum van Loon
Conservator Tonko Grever:
"We want to present the canal house, which we purchased from the Van Loons in 1884, to the public as a residential house. That does mean that not every painting and piece of furniture gets perfect lighting, but it makes the impression of how well-to-do society lived in the Golden Age nearly tangible. The layout is still very typical for the 17th century and that goes for the opulent, large stairwell and the ‘peep through’ from Keizersgracht to Kerkstraat."
Built in 1672, just after the second extension of the Canal Belt, for the Flemish grain, weapons and iron merchant Jeremias van Raey. He hired architect Adriaan Dortsman, and chose the ‘stark style’, with smooth facades, minimal ornaments and harmonious measurements: the facade is an exact square. For further details and visiting times, go to www.museumvanloon.nl.
Resident Iqbal Khawja:
"Maya had come from Kazakhstan, through Israel, to Amsterdam to dance with the Dutch National Ballet. And I came from England, with Israel and Germany as stops in between… The ambience, the feeling that a house gives me is very important… I also fell for the beauty of the plasterwork in the hallway, in particular for Flora, the Roman goddess of spring and flowers, in the stairwell. We felt: here you live in the middle of history. We are also contributing to the history of this building: our three sons were born here."
Built around 1617, this house is one of the earliest examples of the Amsterdam Renaissance style. It is the original structure, built during the third city expansion, on a plot 8.50m across. The lavish plasterwork dates from around 1725 and is in Louis XIV style.
These pages are edited extracts from 400 Year Anniversary Amsterdam Canal District, which is available from www.uitgeverijhuys.nl and city bookshops. Amsterdam 2013 has several events celebrating the 400-year anniversary, see www.amsterdam2013.klm.com, and p87 for Flying Blue benefits.