Squabbling over land

Desihn Victoria Hotel, the blanc empty space was for the two buildings, but of course a spanner was thrown...
Design Victoria Hotel, the blanc empty space was for the two buildings, but of course a spanner was thrown…

The bestseller ‘Public Works’ by writer Thomas Rosenboom from 1999 is part of the Dutch literary heritage. From December 3, 2015 the film version of this book could be seen in the cinema. In the story, the struggle around the construction of monumental Victoria Hotel takes center stage. Who walks past the hotel on Prins Hendrikkade, will notice something strange. Because the facade on this side includes two old buildings where the hotel is built. This is the very ground where the battle of the story is about. But also for the construction of the prestigious hotel has already fought there for this reason.

Texelse Kade corner of Damrak
Texelse Kade corner of Damrak

The land on the top of Damrak and the corner of Prins Hendrikkade (then known as Texelse Kade) was already in the sixteenth century coveted. At the place where now the two old houses are standing, wood merchant Meeus Adamsz built in 1541 a house with a summer kitchen at the rear. This allowed the owner of the house, which was around the corner on Damrak 2, that he could no longer get to the back of his house to lift up goods there. This problem became so heated that the aggrieved owner went to the Great Council of Mechelen and claimed that he had a right of way, so he could still reach the back of his house.

Amsterdam Victoria Hotel around 1900
Amsterdam Victoria Hotel around 1900

But in the following centuries this part of town was a regular source of disputes between neighbors. Unlike often thought the still visible low house has always been low. When the owner wanted to renovate his house in 1602, his neighbor resisted. He made a case and finally allowed the new building that still stands today, having only one floor. When the house was sold in 1649 this provision was again repeated. In 1736 the facade was redone. The house was then occupied by a surgeon, later it was a shipping agent and a bookseller. In 1845 tailor Carstens came to live there, and in 1865 he bought the place. More than 20 years later, Carstens together with its neighbor took opposition against the construction of the Victoria Hotel.

The way it looks today
The way it looks today

In 1888 the German architect JF Henkenhaf made a design for the construction of the Victoria Hotel, the first hotel in the city to be constructed with lifts and electric light. To build this great hotel, the ten lots of houses on Damrak and Prins Hendrikkade had to be purchased. The owners of two houses on Prins Hendrikkade asked for their homes such an absurdly high price that the company that built the hotel, was ‘not amused’. The result was that the hotel was built around the dwellings, taking care that the age-old quarrels to this piece of Amsterdam soil is still visible today.

Advertorial for the hotel, when you look closely the disputed side is one wall, instead of the real situation.
Advertorial for the hotel, when you look closely the disputed side is one wall, instead of the real situation.

JF Henkenhaf, together with J Ebert also designed the Kurhaus in Scheveningen.

Kurhaus-Scheveninghen

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