History of the building
Mayor Moonen of Waalwijk at the start of the building of the House of Waalwijk
During the 1931-1932 crisis years, a town hall of allure was built in Waalwijk. Alexander Jacobus Kropholler, one of the most important Dutch architects of the last century, not only created a particularly unique building, but also all the interior details. His design included all the buildings around the Raadhuisplein, as well as the romantic inner garden to the left of the town hall.
Architect Kropholler (Amsterdam 1881-Wassenaar 1973) was self-taught. He was influenced by the French architect E-E. Viollet-le-Duc and his disciple, Dr. P.J.H. Cuijpers. The style of architect HP Berlage is also visible: honest use of bricks, emphatic application of natural stone and clear construction. Furthermore, it is characterized by the ideas of the Delft professor M.J. Grandpré Molière. His vision was: “architecture must be based on an ideological will, and that architecture must be able to be seen as an expression of life”. Kropholler therefore paid a lot of attention to the relationship of the structure and its environment. The House of Waalwijk therefore forms one architectural whole with all the other adjacent buildings.
The House of Waalwijk inside and out
Architect Alexander Kropholler at work
A monument and beautiful museum in Waalwijk has a large, hand-shaped warm red facing bricks in light gray joints giving the building a friendly character. The steep roof (dimensions of the building are incidentally: length 24 m, width 18 m and height 35 m) is covered with Norwegian slates, bearing the fairytale name: ‘Gud brandsdalens skifer brud ‘. The stepped gable also impresses the visitor with the stylish coat of arms of Waalwijk (3.5 x 3.5 m), and the loggia with the clock above it on a hedgehog pane. A sandstone cow and an ox, symbols of the traditional leather industry and animal husbandry, guard the granite stairs from the landing to the main entrance. Two lions with the arms of the Netherlands and the province of North-Brabant, a façade needle and three heavy, people-colored anchors complete the whole. The windows are set with antique glass, which can only be viewed from the inside. All doors are made of Java teak and finished with hand-forged door handles, and foot plates. The iron bars, railings, bronze door fittings, masonry are proof of Kropholler’s exceptional craftsmanship in detail .
Interior House of Waalwijk | Photo: Piet Pulles
His harmonious architectural style can also be found inside the building. The walls of the hall, the stairwell, connecting rooms and corridors are made of different, colorful types of stone. All combined with matching glazed paneling. Sandstone columns, brick arches with attachments and the curved vault make the interior lively and graceful. The whole is also rich in exclusive types of wood used in ceilings, doors, furniture, etc. Everywhere there are artistic details. Various clocks remind the visitor “to mind the time”. In the hall, corridors and rooms portraits of three generations of the royal family can be admired as well as a large number of art objects from famous visual artists such as:
- Lambertus Zijl:made a name for himself by providing images for the Beurs van Berlage-Amsterdam from the outside. He made a sandstone relief of Queen Wilhelmina for the Waalwijk town hall, as well as the sandstone cow, the ox and the birds and animal figures.
- Cephas Stauthamer : made the mosaic with the name ‘Trade’, referring to the indoor Chamber of Commerce.
- Felix Timmermans: Flemish writer and draftsman: designed tile tableau ‘St. Crispinus and St. Crispinianus ‘, patron saints of shoemakers and tanners;
- Julie Kropholler: sister of the architect Kropholler: made the stained glass windows in the exterior facades, decorated with, among other things, the twelve zodiac signs and images of the planets Venus and Mars, providing an eye-catching light.
- Veerle Dupont : Flemish artist: made the tapestry in the wedding room, which unfortunately is no longer present.
- Eduard Baron Speyart van Woerden:made the bronze plaque in the wooden frame by the painting of Queen Beatrix.
- Theo van Delft, Waalwijk’s visual artist: from his hand are: the bust of Queen Juliana cast in bronze, the statue of Duke John II of Brabant made of sandstone, a sandstone relief of the old town hall (destroyed by fire in 1824), and a wall painting in the wedding room after Biblical motives. He painted Adam and Eve in paradise but also included Waalwijk landmarks, such as the old church tower of Baardwijk. Because the wall had to remain recognizable as a wall, Theo van Delft did not use perspective. Inspirational Bible texts endorse the whole. He also painted the portrait of former Mayor E.J.C. Moonen in the wedding room.
Throughout the entire building, philosophical and faith-based proverbs complete the unique ambiance. Also humor is not lacking. Near the former reception office appears the saying: “Bear each other’s burdens.” In the council chamber, the coat of arms of Baardwijk, Besoyen and Waalwijk refer to their separate council status before the merger as one city in 1924.
Photo: Piet Pulles
At the rear of the building, a memorial plaque on the wall recalls the dramatic event that took place there on September 6, 1944.
Mayor E.J.C. Moonen 68 years old, Vincent Hoffmans 25 years old and his brother Joop Hoffmans 16 years old stood here before the firing squad of the German occupiers. Vincent Hoffmans miraculously survived this horror.
Facts and findings
January 30, 1931; Waalwijk City Council approves the design and construction of a new town hall.
15 March 1931: contractor J. de Bont from Nieuwkuijk starts the construction of the Kropholler town hall for the sum of 203,260 guilders. Supervisor: H. de Hoop from Waalwijk.
July 19, 1931: Ms W. Moonen, daughter of mayor Moonen, lays the foundation stone;
August 25, 1931: Mayor EJC Moonen (1876-1944) builds a memorial in a memorial stone that is placed in the hall of the town hall.
22 October 1932: official opening of the town hall by the Queen’s Commissioner in Noord-Brabant, mr. ABMG van Rijckevorsel.
10 June 2010: opening of new Waalwijk town hall by mayor AMP Kleijngeld
Extensive information about the construction and design of Het Huis van Waalwijk can be found as a PDF file at: www.wolluk.nl/documents/het%20raadhuis%20en%20raadhuisplein.pdf
Basic text: www: huisvanwaalwijk.nl Edited: version 0 3 dated: 27-11-2019