One of the results of the Industrial Revolution was a new phenomenon called ‘shop’. Before the Industrial Revolution, trade took place at outdoor market places or directly at the workshop of a craftsman. The ‘shop’ as we know it was not yet invented. But the Industrial Revolution paved the way for mass production and made craftsmen relatively expensive. At the same time, large numbers of middle class people became ‘consumers’ as they had more money to spend. Smart ‘middlemen’ jumped into this gap by selling the products of the factories and that is how the phenomenon ‘shop’ arose. Existing houses, specially in the inner cities, were transformed into residential-shops (shop downstairs, living quarters upstairs). And because this transition took place in a period when Art Nouveau was hot, lucky us, most shop fronts were designed in Art Nouveau style.
At Wijnstraat 223 in Dordrecht I think I found a very nice example. The building itself dates from around 1800 but the shop front clearly dates from a later period. The building is listed as monument RM14013.
Orignal design of the facade – Modification 1901 Shop Front
Browsing the internet for information about this object was a little more difficult than usual. There was hardly any information available online. Luckily someone experienced helped me trace the name of the owner in 1900, and I also found the original blueprints at the city archieves, Erfgoedcentrum DIEP.
The owner at the time of the building’s transformation in 1901 was Jacob Touwen (born 31-06-1870 in Meppel, deceased 08-02-1946 in Rijswijk at age 75). Touwen, who wanted a shop for his luxury products, commissioned L.P. Joosten to design a shop front as well as a beautiful interior. When I got the blueprints at the city archieves I couldn’t help but smile. I felt like I had found a treasure! Just look at the beautiful designs Joosten made for the shop front and the stairs to the loft.
In 1901 the opening of the shop was mentioned in several local newspapers. And also later on, Jacob Touwen advertised on a regular basis in local newspaper as “Purveyor to the Dutch Court” with lampshades, ceramics, electric crowns, hall lanterns and wall arms. He had the shop front designed by Joosten with huge curved windows to display his fine luxury products. From the drawings we learn there was an opening in the middle of the floor of the upstairs showroom, surrounded by cast iron railings. Touwen probably displayed his best items on the shelves of this beautiful 2nd floor showroom. Unfortunately, the beautiful interior as in the above drawing no longer exists.
Around 1915, the shop was taken over by W. Zuidema. Zuidema most likely had a shop similar to Touwen’s shop, because he advertised with “Pewter, Crystal, Earthenware, Copper. Received new shipments of Breakfast- and Tea Sets, Serving Trays, Lamps, Crafted Glass from Leerdam. See shop window.” (source: Dordrechtsch Nieuwsblad wed 19 Febr. 1930) It must have been quite an exclusive store, as even today we can trace Zuidema’s porcelain on auction and collectors websites.
Unfortunately also Zuidema left Wijnstraat 223. On 15 March 1938 J.P. Snijders opened a bar called De Witte Ballon (The White Balloon) in ‘our’ beautiful shop! Snijders had filed for and actually received a permit to completely destroy the exquisite interior of the building (several staircases were moved, the opening in the middle of the upstairs showroom floor was closed, walls were moved etc.). He also had the shop front adjusted: the curved windows were replaced by a straight shop front which was moved forward. And that is roughly how the shop front remains until today. The current owner kindly confirmed that there are no original details left inside the building.
Now, I know it is totally irrelevant for my story about Art Nouveau, but I want to share this with you anyway: During my research about ‘our’ shop I accidentally stumbled upon a most peculiar WWII story!
On Sunday 9 July 1944 a report was filed by the police: At the request of the Field Gendarmerie, yesterday at 20.15 pm, 10 policemen were sent to hold a raid among women who were hanging out in 7 bars in our city. About 200 women were arrested and transferred by truck to the Wehrmacht Building at Godewijkstreet. They were all inspected for venereal diseases. This inspection took until 02:35 am and after that all women were sent home. Bars involved are: Stam-Voorstraat (Stad Rotterdam), Heuff-Voorstraat, Cito-Voorstraat, Snijders-Wijnstraat (Witte Ballon), Bauer-Vriesestraat, de Haas-Nieuwstraat and Olm-Steegoversloot (Spinnewiel).
While on this Journey into getting to know Art Nouveau I discover the most interesting things about our history and I love it. Architecture is inextricably connected with history and I hope my blog will contribute to make that history known by a larger public.