De Kempenaer House for sale?

Is there, after 15 years of vacancy and decay, finally hope for the villa at Eisenhowerlaan 132, De Kempenaer House? For a long time, the Municipality and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs let the decay happen, being unable to enforce a restoration and wanting to stay away from arguing openly with owner Saudi Arabia. Members of the local council, the local press, BAS Foundation and others have demanded action loud and clear, and as it seems things are beginning to move. Alexander Weissink gives an update in Het Financieele Dagblad of June 17, 2023 (in Dutch). The Saudian ambassador has been addressed and the Municipality is prepared to enforce restoration. How will this continue? Saudi Arabia is willing to sell the property. Will the house continue to be in decay or will a new owner restore De Kempenaer to its former glory? We sincerely hope for the latter.

dome of De Kempenaer House
The dome of De Kempenaer House in better days Ⓒ Maarten Ruijters

Farewell to the Muratti glass plate

For over a century this beautiful antique glass advertisement by Muratti Cigarettes adorned the facade of the cigar shop on Fred 152. Since the construction of the building block in 1906, the cigar shop was located on the corner with Statenlaan. Originally it was a branch of A. Hillen from Delft, the oldest cigar factory in the Netherlands dating from 1770. You can still see, above the shop door, the year 1770 prominently displayed in the authentic lettering. Hillen went bankrupt in 1937, but the place has remained a luxury cigar shop ever since. The last 30 years it housed the well-known Cigarros Adelante. However, this summer Adelante closed the store and the classic wooden interior has gone to make way for the new tenant, a barber shop. The barbershop owner wants to attach its own bill board in the place of the Muratti advertisement and had the antique glass plate removed.

The advertisement, in Jugendstil, is a so-called veined glass plate. The letters and images are first sandblasted in black polished veined glass. Then the roughened and recessed surfaces are inlaid with gold leaf. This glass plate is even more special because of the inlays of blue and red glass.

Only a handful of these veined glass advertisements have survived in their original sites, but unfortunately, advertisements, however old and valuable, are not protected as a monument.

The Muratti glass plate at Fred 152, until recently © Marja Langenberg

Fortunately, the glass plate was safely removed by the owner of the building. What will happen next is still uncertain. If the glass plate can’t be maintained in place it should be preserved for the public. Fortunately, the National Glass Museum in Leerdam expressed the wish to include the plate in its collection. The Hague heritage organizations SHIE, Friends of The Hague, The Hague Historical Museum and BAS also hope for Leerdam as the final destination.

1925. A market stall in front of the shop of cigar factory A. Hillen with the name and the founding year 1770 above the shop windows. © Haags Gemeente Archief

Filling in the gaps!

Attentive locals roaming our Statenkwartier will notice new houses are popping up filling in the gaps between the existing building blocks. One by one, almost unnoticed. The architecture fits into the overall image of the street, you get the impression these houses have been there all the time. What is going on here? The Hague is short on housing and the municipal policy is to build extra housing in existing neighborhoods, recently also seen in the protected city sites of Statenkwartier and Duinoord. Owners of garage boxes or other low-rise buildings between the building blocks seize the opportunity to demolish them and replace them with new three-storey houses or apartments. At first sight, it is an improvement when a neglected and vacant warehouse or garage box is replaced by a well-designed new building.

Van Boetzelaerlaan: well-designed new-built housing on top of former garage boxes, 2018. © Marja Langenberg

But be aware: as regards urban planning it is often a deterioration if the open space between the blocks diminishes and the original profile of the street gets narrower. When the Statenkwartier was designed and built, the aim was to emphasize the rural character of the new neighborhood in the dunes by allowing light and air by building open building blocks instead of traditional closed building blocks. The designated use and the permitted heights -and more- of all the buildings in the Statenkwartier are specified in the current zoning plan. If the owner goes for a different use or a higher building he needs a special municipal permit. However, off late the municipality is quite easy-going in granting exemptions.

Van Beverningkstraat,
Willem de Zwijgerlaan

At the moment a proposal has been submitted for the replacement of the Kettenis garage boxes annex workshop with new-build apartments in the Van Beverningkstraat on the corner of the Willem de Zwijgerlaan. This is against the destinated use and height in the zoning plan. Let us remain alert to this development. BAS will ask the municipality about the criteria for granting permits to replace these low buildings by three-storey housing blocks.

Van Beverningkstraat : number 103 with new-built housing on top of a former workshop (2016) and the Kettenis Garage at number 101 © Marja Langenberg