ARUBA Olga van der Klooster Michel Bakker
KIT Publishers / Fundacion Editorial Charuba
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS KIT Publishers Mauritskade 63 Postbus 95001 1090 HA Amsterdam E-mail: email@example.com www.kitpublishers.nl
© 2013 KIT Publishers, Amsterdam / Fundacion Editorial Charuba, Oranjestad © Text and routes: Olga van der Klooster and Michel Bakker
Translation: Steve Green Design: Nel Punt Photography: Frank Veenis Photography Plantage Zorg en Hoop: p. 22, 29, 36 top, 42, 43 down, 45, 55 down, 64 down, 68, 89, 90, 108, 109, 114, 117, 123 Cartography: Armand Haye Production: High Trade BV, Zwolle
ISBN 978 94 6022 2283
The publisher gratefully acknowledges the support of the Tourist Product Enhancement Fund (TPEF) All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher.
The authors owe a great debt of gratitude to the following people and organisations. Prime Minister Mike Eman; Minister of Finance, Social Affairs and Culture, Michelle Hooyboer-Winklaar; Minister of Tourism, Transport and Labour, Otmar Oduber. Archeologisch Museum Aruba, Bureau Culturele Ontwikkeling en Nationaal Erfgoed, CeDe Aruba, Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, Editorial Charuba, Historisch Museum Aruba, KIT Publishers, Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen, Ministerie van Cultuur, Monumentenbureau Aruba, Nationaal Archief Aruba, Nationale Bibliotheek Aruba, Nationaal Park Arikok, Stichting Monumentenfonds Aruba, Stichting Monumentenzorg Aruba, Stuurgroep Monument- en Cultuurroute, Tourism Product Enhancement Fund, Vereniging van Educatieve Auteurs Amsterdam, Vertegenwoordiging van Nederland Overzee, and Vrienden van het Nationaal Archief Aruba. Luc Alofs, Martijn Balkestein, Randy van der Biezen, Bibi Bikker, Rob Boot, Olga Buckley, Cristina Casas, Des Croes, Marlon Croes, Shakira Croes, Hubert de Cuba, Rudy de Cuba, Ruud Derix, Raymundo Dijkhoff, Frank Eelens, Daphne Every, Jossy Figaroa, Arminda Franken-Ruiz, Facundo Franken, Herman Franssen, Irene Geerts, Steve Green, Armand Haye, Raymond Hernandez, Diederik ten Holder, Jody de Jong, Harold Kelly, Laurens Knegt, Dufi Kock, Raffi Kock, Candelaria Nilda Koolman, Eric Koolman, Arlette Kouwenhoven, Annette Lieth, Noris van Lis-Donata, Minouche Lopez, Erika Madenszki, Diego Marquez, Ronny Marugg, Earon Matthew, Henk Ooft, Patricia Portier, Nel Punt, Lewis van Romondt, Anthony Rosenstand, Maarten van Rossum, Irais Sankatsing-Nava, Marcial Sint Jago, Roly Sint Jago, Ron Smit, Annemarie van Toorn, Paulien Veenis-Rolf and Frank Veenis, Jan Veneman, Lajos Vermesi, Jaap and Joyce de Vries, Richard Werleman, Anne Witsenburg-de Jong. A special word of gratitude to Alice van Romondt for her huge commitment, her unwavering support and her leading role in caring for Aruban culture. Olga van der Klooster and Michel Bakker
TABLE OF CONTENTS 4
Timeline history of Aruba
INTRODUCTION The Monuments Guide Aruba guide will introduce you to the cultural history of Aruba in a leisurely and recreational way. It is the perfect way to discover the true nature of this island. The rural car route will take you around the island, and the two walking routes explore Oranjestad and San Nicolas. You can also make your own excursions into nature. Along the way you will encounter the most important cultural heritage on the island, including important historic buildings, and archaeological and natural sites. You will see everything from traditional cunucu homes and industrial heritage to modern shopping meccas and many churches. For Arubans, they are beacons in society; for travellers, they are markers in the landscape. Additional texts scattered throughout the book explore specific subjects in greater depth. Accessibility was an important criterion when selecting historic buildings for this guide. It is for this reason that the countryside route mostly follows the island’s sign-posted main roads. We recommend that you do not to enter private land or premises, or impinge on the privacy of the occupants. While there are no rules to prevent you from photographing buildings from the public highway, if you see that a local person has noticed you, they will greatly appreciate a word of explanation. In contrast to the hustle and bustle of Oranjestad, it is still pleasantly tranquil throughout much of ‘inland’ Aruba. It is not always easy to find specific addresses on Aruba. Many houses have no number, and it is not uncommon for buildings here to be repainted in a different colour. However, local people will always do their best to help you find your way. Readers should be aware that although Oranjestad and San Nicolas do have clearly defined city centres, one should not expect to find traditional village squares elsewhere on the island. This is because, historically, the Aruban landscape was dotted with cunucu houses. Although some were built closer together than others, there were no real population centres to speak of. The population did grow gradually, however, and family members leaving the parental home would often settle nearby. Sometimes they would build a house on the same land, sometimes on adjacent land. Over time, this led to family enclaves growing in ever expanding circles that ultimately merged with others. When walking on Aruban paths and fields, one should be aware of a few minor hazards. The chance of being bitten by a rattlesnake in Parke Arikok is very small, but nevertheless slightly greater out in the open than on the road. The boa is larger than the rattlesnake, but of no danger to people. Contact with some plants may cause itchiness or blistering. Some plants are poisonous if eaten, so one is well4
monuments guide aruba
advised to suppress the desire to consume berries and leaves. It is strongly recommended to wear sturdy footwear for hiking off the beaten track in Parke Arikok, over the Hooiberg, or along the coast. The intensity of the sunâ€™s rays should not be underestimated. It is inadvisable to walk for hours in the tropical sun in short trousers and a T-shirt, or without a hat. Long trousers and sleeves also protect against scratches and bites. Take along sun cream, a first aid kit, a full flask and a powerful insect repellent. The dengue mosquito is active during the daytime. Do not be deterred by this brief summary. The real Aruba is best discovered on foot. The rewards are great and the dangers few. So feel free to veer off the beaten track and set off on your own expedition. The trade winds keep on blowing, and knowledge continues to stride forward. There are few constants in life. The authors would greatly appreciate hearing about your experiences and receiving any comments that help maintain the accuracy of this guide. Kindly pass them on to the publisher. Olga van der Klooster and Michel Bakker
TIMELINE HISTORY OF ARUBA 2500 BCE (approx.) Indigenous South Americans (hunters/fishers/collectors) cross from the mainland to the Leeward Islands, or Lesser Antilles 900/1000 CE (approx.) Indigenous Caquetio farmers settle on the island. 1499–1500 Bonaire and Curacao are ‘discovered’ by Amerigo Vespucci. 1500–1634 (approx.) Spanish era for Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. Although a governor is in place, there is no true colonisation. 1515 The vast majority of the indigenous population are transferred to Santo Domingo. 1527 The Spanish colonise Aruba, bringing Christianity with them. The island is repopulated. 1634 The Dutch establish a navy base on Curacao and also occupy Aruba and Bonaire. 1636–1792 Aruba is a dependency of Curacao governed by the West India Company (WIC). 1725 Paulus Printz goes on an expedition searching for gold. 1750 The first chapel is built, at Alto Vista. 1754 Moses de Salomo Levy Maduro is admitted as the first colonist, under the authority of the WIC. 1790 (approx.) Colonisation gets underway, eventually leading to the founding of Oranjestad. 1791 The WIC is dissolved. The colonies in the West become the property of the Dutch state. 1816–1951 Aruba is governed as a dependency of the colony Curacao. Up to 1848 the chief executive has the title of Commander, thereafter, Governor. 1824 Gold is discovered on Aruba. The village at Paardenbaai (Bay of Horses) is given the name ‘de Oranje Stad’ (the Orange City). 1829–43 G.B. Bosch, a pastor and school warden on Curacao, publishes his three-volume Reizen in West-Indië (Journeys in West India). He is considered to be Aruba’s first cultural historian. 1840 Experiments carried out on the Leeward Islands into growing crops of cochineal, dividivi, aloe, peanut, kasju, corn and beans. 1858 Nicolaas Adrianus Kuiperi becomes Aruba’s first church minister. Published in 1862, his Katekismoe (Catechism) is the first book in the national language. 1863 Slavery abolished. 1879–1914 Phosphate industry in the far east of Aruba. 6
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1880 (approx.) Due to lack of employment, seasonal workers migrate to other islands, particularly Cuba, to harvest sugar beet. 1880–86 Pastor Antonius Joannes van Koolwijk (1836–1913) works in Oranjestad. He is regarded as the Leeward Islands’ first ‘archaeologist’. 1916 Gold mining ceases. 1924 The Lago Oil and Transport Company is established. Arrival of electric lighting. 1927 New harbour at San Nicolas is opened. 1929 Lago oil refinery is opened. 1932 Oranjestad mains water supply installed. Aruba gets its Chamber of Commerce. 1934 Landing of first aeroplane from the Netherlands (the Snip), marking the start of KLM’s activities in the West Indies. 1935 The airport is opened. 1940 Aruba is drawn into the Second World War. Essential fuel supplies from Aruba to the Allies are threatened by the Germans (1942). 1948 At the Round Table Conference in The Hague, Aruba submits a motion that will lead to its independence as a nation on 1 January 1986. Founding of Sticusa, the organisation for cultural cooperation between the Netherlands, Indonesia, Suriname and the Netherlands. 1949 Founding of Aruba Cultural Centre. 1951 The Island Territory of Aruba becomes autonomous. 1955 Aruba gets its own coat of arms. 1957 Tradewind becomes the first tourist ship to enter Oranjestad harbour. 1958 The Netherlands Antilles becomes an independent diocese. 1976 Aruba gets its own flag. 1981 Opening of the Aruban Archaeological Museum and the Museo Numismatico Aruba. 1982 The public library (Biblioteca Nacional, from 1986), occupies its new premises on the George Madurostraat. 1984 The Aruba Historical Museum (Museo Arubano) is opened in the restored Fort Zoutman and Willem III Tower. 1985 Lago closes its refinery in San Nicolas. 1986 Aruba is granted status aparte, quits the Antillean federation and becomes an independent territory of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. 18 March becomes National Day. 1988 The University of Aruba opens. 1997 Parke Nacional Arikok opens. 2012 Aruban burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia arubensis) is made the national symbol. 7
timeline history of aruba
OVERLAND ROUTE The island of Aruba has an area of 180 square kilometres. It is approximately 30 kilometres long and nine kilometres wide at its broadest point. Despite its modest dimensions, the variations in landscape, soil and rock, as well as the wide range of building styles, make it a pocket-sized continent. Papiamento is most Arubans’ mother tongue, while the official language is Dutch. Spanish and English are also widely spoken. Geologically, Aruba belongs to that extensive island group known as the Antilles. It was formed many millions of years ago by subterranean volcanic activity and other tectonic forces. The islands form an arc between the north coast of Venezuela and the east coast of Florida. The Spanish conquered the Leeward Antilles – Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao – in or around 1499. Caquetio people still lived on Aruba at the time. They originated from continental Venezuela and Colombia. The colonists brought the Catholic faith and slavery. They forced the original inhabitants to work on the sugar cane plantations and in the gold and silver mines on Hispaniola. The last reminders of this Spanish period are the goats and donkeys they imported. These animals now roam freely on the island. The Dutch (or Chartered) West India Company (WIC) occupied Curacao in 1634. This island was to become a strategic base for privateers and traders in slaves, salt, sugar, lime and dyewood. Two years later Bonaire and Aruba were ‘subordinated’ to the main island of Curacao. Aruba’s savannah meant the island was important to supporting the WIC’s livestock. From the age of 16, local men were expected to herd cattle and keep their watering places clean. The WIC set up an outstation with a commander at Savaneta to supervise these activities. It was only in 1754 that colonists were permitted to settle on the island. They led a simple existence, surviving – like the original inhabitants – as fisher folk and farmers (cunuceros; conuco is Caquetio for ‘agricultural land’). Their dwellings were also fairly basic, rarely more than a straw or wattle and daub hut. The only person to live in a stone-built house was the commander. Leafy, shade-providing trees, fruit trees and (medicinal) herbs grew on the land surrounding each hut. The occupant also had a plot some distance from the hut, where he grew crops for his own consumption. Cooking was done in the open air, in the yard around the hut. The human population was entirely dependent on the rainy season for water. They collected rainwater in cisterns, and dammed up rainwater rivers (rooien) to form reservoirs (tankis).
monuments guide aruba
Merchants only established themselves on the island once the WIC’s trading monopoly ended around 1795. Their presence led to the building of a small village of merchants’ houses at Paardenbaai (Bay of Horses). It grew to become the island’s capital. Economic activity on the island increased when gold was discovered in 1824. However, gold mining has never been of huge economic importance to the island. A large phosphate company existed from 1879 to 1914, and it, too, led to a brief period of relative prosperity. It was the oil refining company Lago (operational from 1924 to 1985) that brought great wealth to the island. After the Second World War broke out in 1939, Lago became an important fuel supplier for Allied planes and ships. It meant that the uncomplicated society on Aruba was to become one of the most prosperous islands in the Caribbean and even further afield. Unfortunately, Lago had to close down in 1985. The island managed to maintain its high standard of living through a welltimed shift to tourism. Currently, around 1.7 million tourists visit Aruba annually. The island is best known for its wonderful beaches, but it also has a rich and fascinating culture. This overland route will take you to outstanding built heritage that testifies to Aruba’s identity and history.
SAINT FRANCIS CHURCH, J.E. IRAUSQUIN SQUARE 3, ORANJESTAD Saint Francis Church (1919) is one of Oranjestadâ€™s most important landmarks. For a long time, the tower was the cityâ€™s highest point, and it was long used by sailors as a reference point. It is the fourth church of this name on the same spot. The first church was built here between 1809 and 1813, and it, too, was dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi. Just like the older church in the Noord region, it was made of plaited branches and had a roof of cornstalks. It collapsed during a rainstorm in 1825. The second St Francis Church was consecrated on 9 November 1828. On Thursday, 22 April 1864, administrator Edouard D.E. van den Bossche laid the first stone for the third St Francis Church. That building, however, collapsed even before its official consecration. Only the northern wall, the tower, and the chancel survived. Bishop Henricus J. van Ewijk O.P. performed the solemn consecration of the swiftly rebuilt
monuments guide aruba
church. In the end this building did not suffice, either. Finally, in 1919, the present, fourth St Francis Church was built. There are many similarities to St Anneâ€™s Church in Noord, which is no surprise, since both churches were designed by priest and architect Stephanus van de Pavert. The largely external, octagonal baptistery was, incidentally, added to the north-west corner at a later stage. In June 1941 the parish of Oranjestad received stained windows. The window over the main entrance depicts the Last Judgement, with a crowned Mary and Christ with the Book of Life; at right is the Ascent of the Blessed, and at left, the Fall of the Damned. At the baptistery, three windows show scenes referring to the saving baptism. One window depicts Jonah and the Whale, a reference to Christâ€™s resurrection. An important theme in Christian art is the representation of the saving of the soul from distress and danger, and so Jonahâ€™s story is highly appropriate for a baptistery. Furthermore, water clearly also plays a role. Inside the church, there is no separation between the nave and the aisles; it is what is known as an aisle-less church. The main altar and a large crucifix are against the back wall. On either side of the sanctuary is an altar: the one on the left is dedicated to the Holy Heart, the one on the right to the Virgin Mary. The front of the cathedra and the two panels against the pillars between the nave and the choir form three parts of a tetramorph. This is a symbolic representation consisting of four figures: man, lion, cow and eagle, referring to the four evangelists. The panels are made from the wood of old communion rails. The pews are original. Near the skylights, the beautiful windows with pastelcoloured glass stand out. The choir stand railing has openings shaped as a Greek cross. The gate to the baptistery features a finely crafted combination in wrought iron, with geometric and plant-like forms. Next to the church is the presbytery; to the west of this is an enclosure with a statue of the Madonna.
FRIARS’ HOUSE, J.E. IRAUSQUIN SQUARE 4, ORANJESTAD The friars’ house was founded in 1914 and dedicated to St Francis of Assisi. It was originally intended to be the home of the Zwijsen Friars, more widely known as the Tilburg Friars. Friar Radulphus (Adrianus Hermus, 1869–1961) was the architect, and Friar Gerontius oversaw its construction. The facade, featuring a relatively large amount of woodwork for the period, had a more open structure than it does today. A connection that included a rainwater cistern was built between the friars’ house and the adjacent Dominicus School. Along the intimate patio, heavy pillars support a gallery, with slender posts and ornamental railings running between them. The brothers’ chambers were located on the ground floor and on the floor above. The rooms were once the private chambers of the teaching brigades of the De la Salle brothers. The simple washbasins and tiny details in some of the small rooms are reminders of their original purpose. On 11 February 1946, Father Bartel consecrated the chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. In July 1950 the brothers celebrated their first twelve and a half years on the island. To mark the occasion, the people of Aruba presented them with two stained glass windows for the chapel. To the left is a representation of Santa Maria de Perpetuo Succursu (Our Lady of Perpetual Help) and, to the right, one of Saint John Baptist de la Salle. The windows were manufactured by glass artist Jaap J. van Staveren of the Doordrecht Glassery (Dortsche Glashandel) in Dordrecht, the Netherlands. The friars’ house was sold on 30 December 1987, after which the University of Aruba was housed there. On 9 September 1988, the inauguration of the academic year was celebrated for the first time in the chapel, which was converted into the assembly hall. The friars’ rooms have since been used as teachers’ chambers, among other things.
monuments guide aruba
DOMINICUS SCHOOL, J.E. IRAUSQUIN SQUARE 6, ORANJESTAD On 4 January 1915, the Dominicus School was inaugurated by Father P. I. Verriet, in the presence of the administrator and the regional councils of Aruba. The facade was decorated with garlands for the occasion. In the first year, 115 students attended the school. There are identifiable Neoclassical and Neo-Renaissance influences in the detailing of the design. The building has two hipped roofs with boulet tiles placed next to each other. The first hipped roof is placed over the gallery at the front of the building; the higher, second, roof covers the section with the old classrooms behind it. An imitation natural stone effect was achieved by scoring the plasterwork.
A marble tablet commemorating the Tilburg Friars’ departure was placed in the centre of the facade. It features the following words: ‘1914 - December - 1937. As a lasting memory of the blessed work by the honourable Tilburg Friars for the people of Aruba for 23 years, this stone was offered by the former students of the St Dominicus School, and unveiled on their departure from Aruba’. Together with the nearby buildings, which include a convent, a friars’ house, several schools, and the St Francis Church with a presbytery, the St Dominicus School forms a historical, functional part of a complex focused chiefly on Catholic education.
MARY CONVENT, J.E. IRAUSQUIN SQUARE 2A, ORANJESTAD The Franciscan sisters left Aruba in 1909. Friar Radulphus then introduced the Dominican sisterhood of Voorschoten to Oranjestad. In 1920, the nuns moved from the Sivi Divi country estate to this Maria Convent behind the St Francis Church, built especially for them. Parts of the old Sivi Divi would then be incorporated in San Pedro Hospital, inaugurated that same year. Priests S. van de Pavert and B. van Everdingen were in charge of the construction. The oldest main building dates back to 1920. In 1930 and 1931, it underwent a major extension that saw the addition of the Mother Superior’s chamber, a new recreation room with a balcony, a second sleeping area with a bath and toilet, a new kitchen, and other spaces. The electrical and telephone connections were also installed at this time. The old recreation room and the refectory were then converted into a large dining room, and the former kitchen became the pharmacy. There is a basement beneath almost all the entire inner courtyard. This is where the colossal water tanks are housed. These were needed because of the many school children who came to the convent. Rainwater was led into the tanks via the tiles on the hipped roofs and the gutters. Father T. Bartel laid the first stone for the convent’s chapel on 25 March 1946. Three lancet windows (narrow, high windows with pointed arches) in the chapel feature stained glass representations. The central representation is dedicated to Mary. On either side are portrayals of Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine of Siena, recognisable by the lily and crown of thorns. There are also two round windows with stained glass depicting Mary’s baptism and a scene with Saint Dominic. The windows are signed by Frans Balendung from Haarlem in the Netherlands.
monuments guide aruba
POST OFFICE, OFICINA DI POST, J.E. IRAUSQUIN SQUARE 9, ORANJESTAD Aruba had no post office until after the Second World War. In the 19th century, an official employed at the governor’s house near Paardenbaai (Bay of Horses) took care of the mail. Even before the mail boat could moor he would climb aboard to collect the letters and packages – evidently out of fear of smuggling. As soon as he hoisted his white flag with the blue block on it, the locals knew they could pick up their mail. In 1908, the postal service moved to Fort Zoutman, where it was run by the colonial government tax collector, a clerk, and a writer. After the post office had been located in several other governmental buildings, an independent post office was built in 1945. It turned out to be too small from the outset. This post office on Irausquin Square is a worthy successor. It has been altered and expanded over the years. This building is a good example of the Aruba Public Works Department’s post-1950
modern house style. The flat roof was a new element in Aruban architecture. The building was the largest in Oranjestad at the time. It was built in Dutch industrial style, and adapted to the tropical climate. Because of the slender and fragile steel profiles, the glass windows look extra transparent. They form a dramatic and fascinating contrast with the windowless parts of the facade. To block sunlight, the openings in the wall are framed with high cantilevered ledges. The construction is built on a plateau, the sides of which are clad with Aruban stone. Passing through the main entrance we find ourselves in a high central hall that forms the central axis of the building. It is accentuated by the vertical slabs and the broad cornice. In the central hall, the counters for mail handling are positioned between high columns; the offices and work areas are behind them.
JEWISH CEMETERY, CAYA ERNESTO O. PETRONIA/BOERHAAVE LANE, ORANJESTAD A small Sephardi Jewish community lived in Oranjestad at the start of the 19th century, when it was still just a small village near Paardenbaai (Bay of Horses). They were among the earliest residents in the village and were mostly merchants from Curacao. Initially, the ties to their families on that island remained strong, which is why they buried their dead on Curacao. As the group settled in Oranjestad, the need grew to also stay on the island after death. This small cemetery was founded around 1825. At the time, it was outside the town of Oranjestad. In 1940, Rabbi Emanuel discovered eleven remaining graves; several have disappeared since then. In comparison to the lavishly decorated marble and granite tombstones in Beth Haim Jewish cemetery on Curacao, these graves seem rather modest. Only two of them have a marble tablet with an engraved epitaph. The oldest legible epitaph is on the grave of Jaël de Jacob de Morena, who died on 9 November 1857. The other five graves are cylindrical. Three of them are on a base plate. On Curacao, this type of grave was mostly found on the plantations in the interior. On Aruba, it is called a ‘commander’s grave’, because the first commanders (predecessors of the administrators and governors) on the island were buried this way. The arches of the graves in this Jewish cemetery were built using plastered bricks. The bricks were imported from the Netherlands, via Curacao, which on Aruba indicated that the deceased was of considerably means. The cemetery was renovated in 1992. A plaque on the wall recalls the expulsion of the Sephardi Jews from Spain 500 years earlier, and the help offered by the Netherlands, which provided them with a safe haven in the Caribbean.
THE TRADITIONAL ARUBAN CUNUCU HOUSE 1. sala (living room); 2. camber pa drumi (bedroom); 3. hadrei (gallery); 4. fogon ( fireplace with cooking facilities); 5. cushina (kitchen); 6. camber di baño (bathroom/toilet); 7. portal (portico). After a drawing by A. Rosenstand.
After the drawings by Anthony S. Rosenstand
The traditional Aruban cunucu house (cunucu means ‘field’ or ‘farmland’) can be found all over the island. The house would be built in phases. The main house was the first part to be constructed. Additional sections would be built when the resident had sufficient funds. The extensions always followed a similar pattern. The main house would get a hadrei (gallery) with a cushina (kitchen) and fogon (a fireplace with a flue). After some time, a second gallery would be added to the other side of the main house. Any further work would extend from the end elevations. A cunucu house is always constructed with the end elevations facing in the direction of the northern trade wind. That is why the ridge crest almost always runs from east to west. The facade openings are placed facing each other, and the separating walls inside the house are open at the top. This allows the wind to blow through the house from east to west. The kitchen with the chimney is on the west side, thus allowing smoke and cooking smells to be blown directly out of the house. Originally, cunucu houses were often made of daub. Over time, the walls have been built from more durable bricks. Cunucu houses in the city usually have attics and dormer windows.
QUINTA DEL CARMEN COUNTRY HOUSE, BUBALI 119 This house is in fact a traditional Aruban cunucu house (see page 17). Its size, and the ascending walkway, surrounding terrace, contoured arched windows and plaster cornices all combine to give it the allure of a stately country home. It dates back to 1918. The client, Adriaan LaclĂŠ, named it after one of his daughters. This area was popular with the wealthier merchants of Oranjestad at the time,
because there was water here until long into the dry season. During the rainy season, the water flowed underground from the surrounding area to the spring water wells here in Bubali. The merchants exploited the drinking water and had their country houses built here. Like the traditional cunucu houses in the city, this house has an attic with dormer windows. This was unusual for a traditional country house. Outside the city, people usually lived on the ground floor and living rooms had no ceiling. There is still a large basin at the rear of the house. It was meant as a tank for drinking water, but the tropical heat meant that people, especially children, were tempted to use it as a swimming pool. The water for the basin was pumped up from below the ground by windmills. Several families have lived in the Quinta del Carmen country house. It has also been used as staff accommodation and as a hospital by the former Arend Petrol Company.
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AREND PETROL COMPANY HEAD OFFICE, L.G. SMITH BOULEVARD 172, ORANJESTAD This is the former head office of the Arend Petrol Company. Today it is the home of the Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association. The building features the architectural styles used in the Dutch East Indies, such as surrounding covered verandas and broad eaves. However, the building also shows traces of the English architectural styles used on the Windward Islands and in the south of the United States. The architect is unknown. Given the building’s colonial characteristics, he may have worked for the building office of Royal Shell. In a letter to the Director of Public Works on Curacao dated 19 April 1929, the administrator mentions the visit of an engineer named Abelard Soray. He was, ‘fully acquainted with housing construction, city and road building’, and had worked for Arend Petrol in 1927 and 1928. It is possible that Soray was the architect of the Arend head office. In 1927 Shell built the refinery on Druif beach. The refinery no longer exists. It was called by its Dutch name, Arend, or the English translation, Eagle, and was an independent part of Shell. The complex consisted of Taratata wharf, 34 oil tanks, a plant with a refining capacity of 15,000 barrels of crude oil per day, three generators, an ice factory, a laboratory, and a fire station. The company also had its own village with houses for staff. ‘Eagle village’ lies about one kilometre east of Punta Braboe. There were around 24 houses. Here, too, the architecture has similarities with the tropical styles used in the Dutch East Indies: the verandas, galleries and the ventilating bevelled sides on the short ends of the roof. Later, a swimming pool, a community building, a guesthouse and sport facilities were constructed in the village. After the company was dissolved in 1953, the residential area was opened to private families. Since then, many more modern and luxurious houses have been built in the area, and there is little left of the original village.
OLD MILL, PALM BEACH In 1959 two men by the name of Paalman and Woudenberg had the idea of starting a restaurant in a mill. They chose an old Dutch mill built in 1815. It was originally built as a polder mill in the Dutch city of Groningen. After losing its cap in a storm in 1897, it was rebuilt as a tower mill. In 1929, the mill was damaged for a second time by storm and a fire, and the building lost its vanes as well. Under the ownership of Snelter it remained that way until mill builder Medendorp dismantled it and sent it in sections to Aruba for reconstruction. H.M.T. Steenhuizen would become the first and only person on Aruba to import a windmill from the Netherlands. One Sunday morning in early 1960, the mill arrived in the Oranjestad harbour aboard the Baarn, a ship belonging to the KNSM (Royal Dutch Steamboat Shipping Company). The Bohama N.V. Company rebuilt the mill, with H. van Strien as the chief engineer. On 4 March 1961, administrator F.J.C. Beaujon laid the first foundation stone, and the official inauguration took place in early 1962. The restaurant came under the same management as the floating restaurant â€˜Baliâ€™: W. Strijland and K. Schmand. There are still inscriptions inside recalling the various former owners of the mill back in the Netherlands. The vanes are kept in place by guy wires, partly because of the strong trade wind.
monuments guide aruba
CALIFORNIA LIGHTHOUSE, WEST POINT Between 1914 and 1916, a large complex was built on Hudishibana limestone plateau on West Point. It included a lighthouse, a lighthouse-keeper’s residence, and an impressive flight of steps leading to the plateau. Craftsmen from the Netherlands and Curacao oversaw its construction, and a number of them are named: Cola de Bruyn (carpenter), Cola van Leeuwen (bricklayer) and Victor Wawoe (bricklayer). The lighthouse is one of Aruba’s main landmarks. It is about 30 metres tall and mostly built of crushed stone, limestone, and cement. The steel construction for the faroline lamp, mirrors and so forth was another 7.5 metres high. In the shaft a wooden staircase spirals around a hollow American pinewood pole with metal rings. The gas lamp was ordered in France, but the First World War meant it took a long time before it was delivered. Once installed, the light signalled six times a minute – every ten seconds. The rotation mechanism for the light beam was highly ingenious. Over the course of the night, a weight descended from the lantern room to ground level. It descended inside the hollow staircase pole, much like a clock weight. In the morning, the lighthouse-keeper pulled it up again. Around 1970 the lighthouse was equipped with electric lights and an automated mechanism. The lighthouse keepers worked in weekly shifts. They took turns to live in the double staff residence. It must have been quiet and lonely – there were no houses for miles around. Some Arubans claim the place is (or was) haunted. The staff residence is now part of the restaurant built alongside. The building was named after the West India and Pacific Steamship Company ship that struck a rock here. The goods that washed ashore – canned food, clothing and furniture – were sold at bargain prices. For years afterwards, school children were still seen wearing the so-called ‘drowned goods’.
The Alto Vista (â€˜high viewâ€™) area was named after the high plateau on the north coast. The area was originally inhabited by native fishers and tanners. They stripped the hair from goat and horse skins with limewater and tanned them with a watapana fruit extract. The skins were then hung out to dry on racks. There is a well nearby, the Pos di Noord, which the native people called Fori Maria. This well was already indicated on the oldest sea map of Aruba from 1773. Ships anchored in the bay to replenish their water supplies. Near the well, the residents had a tanki (water tank), which the Arubans called Tanki Cacique, referring to the former Caquetio tribe. Around 1880, they left the plateau, apparently fleeing a smallpox epidemic that was probably brought to the island by sailors. Later, a new period of migration to the countryside started, when people returned to farming. Originally, the cunuceros (farmers) lived in mud huts, but as their prosperity increased they started to build brick houses. About 20 ruined buildings remained 150 years ago; today there are none. Other traces of habitation do persist, however: small piles of shells and potsherds will long remain here as silent witnesses to former a way of life.
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ALTO VISTA CHAPEL In 1750, Capuchin monk Pablo de Algemesi from Coro built a small chapel from branches and wood for the small native community. It was the first chapel on Aruba. It was dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary on 20 April that year. When Domingo Bernardino Silvestre became a lay priest in 1772, it was used not only for assembling in the morning for rosary prayers on Mary days, but also to hold a rosary procession around the chapel in the afternoon. This is the origin of the traditional Aruban procession with the antique Spanish cross. After the construction of St Anneâ€™s Church in Noord in 1776, the old chapel fell into increasing disuse. The construction of the St Francis Church in Oranjestad sealed its fate. In 1816, Father Johannes J. Pirovano banned the processions to La Hermita de Nuestra Senora del Rosario, as the dilapidated chapel was known at the time. However, the ruins remained a magical and spiritual site for the people of Aruba. They still bring fresh flowers here. In 1942 it was decided that a new votive chapel (a chapel built by virtue of a vow) would be constructed on this spot. It wasnâ€™t until 1952 that the chapel was actually built. The old altar cross had been preserved, and was restored by sculptor Charles de Vos of Maastricht in the Netherlands. The building was consecrated on Sunday 25 May 1952 by Monsignor Antoninus L.J.T. van der Veen Zeppenfeldt. Ever since, on 15 August each year, a pilgrimage takes place to celebrate the Assumption of Mary. Lining the road to the chapel are thirteen Stations of the Cross, each depicting the Via Dolorosa. The fourteenth station features a tableau with a representation of Jesus being placed in the tomb. This station is on the east side of the chapel.
ALTO VISTA 69 This beautiful, extended cunucu house (see page 17) is set exactly in the curve of the road. The high main building with its saddle roof was made of quarry stone in 1919. Quarry stone was a sign of wealth at the time. Many houses in the surrounding area were built using wattle and daub. As soon as an owner prospered, it was replaced with stone. The Arubans usually built their own houses with the help of family and friends. This house was clearly built by a professional bricklayer, as it is rich in ornamental brickwork, such as the curtain frieze (an ornamental frame embellishing the end of the facade), the graceful gable tops, and the finely shaped hood of the fogon (chimney). This house is one of the most beautiful examples of the local cunucu architecture on the island, because it still has the traditional shutters and doors and is decorated with the characteristic Aruban colours, white and green. According to the residents, the black and grey Dutch roof tiles are the old tiles from St Anneâ€™s Church in Noord. The house has two rainwater cisterns that are filled through an inventive system of square brick rain pipes, via the gutters. When the cisterns were empty during the dry season, the residents would get water from the Pos di Noord well, near the boca (bay) to the northeast of the Alto Vista Chapel. However, this water was salty and was not as pleasant tasting as fresh rainwater.
monuments guide aruba
NOORD 45 Around 1921, a man named August Trimon commissioned the renowned master bricklayer Julian ‘Janchi’ Christiaans to build this house in Noord with the same graceful end elevations as the 1914 country house Huize Washington (Washington House, at Washington 23). Only four houses are left on Aruba featuring this kind of undulating gables. Noord 45 is, therefore, of a rare type modelled on old country houses on Curacao. However, the shape of the gable originated in 17th-century Dutch architecture. The style found its way from the Netherlands to former Dutch trading posts and colonies, such as the Cape colony in South Africa, and the Netherlands Antilles. The building’s size and elegant facades lend it the character of a country house, but there is also a shop in it. Viewed from the outside, traditional Aruban stores can only be distinguished from private houses by the number of doors. Private houses have a single door, while shops have three or more next to each other. Inside there is still a beautiful, traditional tiled floor. Originally, the house had a torto roof: a typical Aruban roof construction. The roof surface is made of strips of cactus wood, covered with a layer of daub. This surface is then plastered to make it waterproof. At the time of construction, this area was quiet and agrarian. During the rainy season, the river on the other side of this house brought abundant water and would also overflow – a blessing for the maize plants. Today, this is one of the busiest crossings on the island. The river is now dammed up and channelled so as not to interfere with the traffic.
SAINT ANNE’S CHURCH, NOORD In 1776, lay priest Domingo Bernardino Silvestre founded the first St Anne’s Church. It was located more or less on the same spot as the present one, but was little more than a mud building with a thatched roof. In 1831 the simple place of worship was replaced by a brick church, which in its turn was replaced by a new building constructed in 1885 and 1886. The present church was built between 1914 and 1916. Father Stephanus van de Pavert designed it, but he let his brother, architect R.A. van de Pavert, develop the plans. There are many similarities with the design Van de Pavert made for the Santa Rosa Church on Curacao. This is an aisle-less church (with no separation between the nave and aisles) with Neoclassical and Neo-Roman characteristics. The church is mostly built of rubble that parishioners literally contributed for the construction. The facade has a projecting mid-section, with a church door ending in a semicircle. There is rose window with a picture of the church’s patron saint, Saint Anne, with the Virgin Mary in the blind arch (a recessed section of the facade). Above it is a light with a picture of Jesus on the Throne. The church’s sidewalls have four crow-stepped buttresses. Past the main entrance, the visitor enters the heavy stone base of the tower, with very high underpasses on three sides. The dome of the aisle-less church has an open roof truss with sixteen visible wooden rafters. A high traverse rib (perpendicular to the room’s longitudinal axis) separates the nave from the chancel. The side altars are dedicated to Mary (left) and Anne (right). The NeoGothic oak retable on the elevated chancel was placed there in 1928. It was a gift from Saint Anthony’s Church in Scheveningen in the Netherlands. The present side altars used to be the wings of this retable. The front of the altar (predella) has a representation of the Tree of Jesse. The figurative panels of the communion rails have been preserved; the central representation of the Last Supper now forms the front of the altar. The stained glass windows, made by the art studio of W. Derix, stained glass artist and purveyor to ‘His Holiness the Pope’, were placed in 1932. In 1965 or thereabouts, Hein Derix made another four stained glass windows for the windows in the western section of the nave. There are several scenes in the round windows on the left of the chancel: Jesus on the Lake of Gennesaret, and portrayals of Saint Hilarius, Saint Innocent III, Saint Peter and a Dominican monk. Three high windows on the left side of the nave, against the chancel side, feature representations of Saint Agnes of Montepulciano,
monuments guide aruba
Saint Rose of Lima and Saint Catherine of Siena. The windows on the right side have pictures of Saint Pius V (a Dominican Pope), Saint Hyacinth and Saint Peter of Verona. In 2010, stained glass scenes by the artist Alfredo Villa Mazo, depicting the Holy Family and the Trinity, were fitted into the two windows on the right-hand side. The round window over the left entrance portrays Bishop Saint Adalbert; the one on the right side depicts the celebrated Dominican monk Saint Thomas Aquinas holding the Summa Theologicae, totius tri partita. The four newest windows in the west of the unsegmented nave portray the lay priests involved with the Alto Vista chapel: on the left, Miquel Alvarez (1750–72) and Domingo Antonio Silvestre (1750); on the right, Bernardus Silvestre (1772–86) and Andreas Tromp (1786–21). The round windows in the facade show Saint Gregory and the Archangel Michael on the left and right, respectively. The Way of the Cross has fourteen stations in oils on metal, painted by Müller in Munich in 1909. The twelfth station includes Father Thomas V. Sadelhoff, the principal of this church, at left.
IMELDAHOF, NOORD The historical section of the Imeldahof (Imelda Court) consists of four pavilions for orphans, built between 1954 and 1956, and a convent built in 1958. The complex is one of the most beautiful designs by the Aruban Public Works Department. N. Schuit signed the building plans, E. Ortiz was the foreman at the site, and A.M. Sint Jago was the supervising official. Halfway through the 20th century, the Catholic Church was very concerned about the fate of abandoned children on Aruba. In April 1951, Father Burgemeester of Oranjestad travelled to the Netherlands and asked Mother Imelda, Mother Superior of the Dominican Sisters of Bethany, to set up a foundation for the protection of the young. Mother Imelda went to Aruba with her assistant, Sister Magdalene, for this purpose. The womenâ€™s association Unitas raised the funds for the construction, while the Don Bosco Foundation managed it. The first seven sisters arrived on 15 January 1952. The construction of the childrenâ€™s home commenced on 4 January 1954. Each of the four pavilions accommodated fifteen children. The buildings were named after the four Dutch princesses Beatrix, Irene, Margriet and Marijke. The sisters working in the pavilions also lived in them. They stayed there 24 hours a day, and did not sleep at the convent during their service. A rotation system was operated for this purpose. In November 1958, the convent was finished as well. From 1970, laymen joined the administration of the Imeldahof. No religious work is done at Imeldahof anymore, and the institution no longer occupies the entire building. Only the section to the west of the convent now has the name Imeldahof. The former convent is now called Cas pa Hubentud. Many kinds of fruit as well as palm trees were cultivated while the nuns lived here.
HISTORIC RURAL PATHS
A hanchi at Tanki Flip
The hanchis (small passages) have almost completely disappeared. These are traditional, narrow country roads that people used to travel on foot or by donkey. This section of a hanchi has survived by chance. The paths ran through farmlands and yards. Riverbeds (rooien) also served as traffic routes in dry spells. On either side of these historical thoroughfares, people used to plant high-rising hedges of cacti. These then became overgrown with climbing plants and shrubs, creating shadowy tunnels. They formed an extended traffic network across the entire island. Over time, these ‘no man’s lands’ were appropriated by owners of adjacent farmlands. Elsewhere, the hanchis were destroyed to make way for motorways. The cactus hedges also served as separating borders for the properties. They prevented stray goats and donkeys from damaging the crops and farm premises. According to Aruban tradition, in order to create a hedge, a cadushi (giant columnar cactus) had to be cut down five to seven days after full moon. On the sixth day, parts of the base were cut off at an angle, and on the seventh day they were placed in a gully dug 25 cm deep. This process ensured the cactus hedge grew successfully. Complete or partial historic rural paths can be found at Tanki Flip, Washington, Hato and elsewhere.