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Aug 2020
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In 2019, Hotel The Craftsmen opened its doors in the Canal District of Amsterdam. This historical monument offers 14- rooms, each portraying a Dutch historical craft. But long before the opening of the hotel, the stately building on the Singel already had a rich history.




In 1651 Nicolaes Swaen bought the two houses on the Singel and gave them it’s original name, De Swaen (The Swan). Nicolaes was a grocer and herbalist from Rotterdam and was married to Elisabeth de Reus.  Elisabeth was the daughter of Johan De Reus, the mayor of Rotterdam and administrator of the Dutch East India Company. His father was his predecessor in Rotterdam, so they hailed from great stock.


On a plaque on the wall of a white swan the family name of the first owner Nicolaes Swaen is presented. This served as a practical purpose, since in olden times, houses didn’t have numbers, but had distinct adornments or ornaments so people knew where to be. This house was likely known as ‘the house with the swan’ or simply ‘the swan’.


Roelof Swaen,  employed by the Admiralty of Amsterdam and Lieutenant under The Netherland’s most famous Admiral ever, Michiel de Ruyter., inherited the building. Roelof was Captain of the ship Noord Holland and took part in the battle of Beachy Head in 1690.


Upon his return, Roelof was made Captain of ‘De Vrede’ (the Peace). It was with this ship that he met his demise. He perished in in a storm on February 2nd, 1697 near Sant Antonio, a Spanish town on the island of Ibiza. Some of the crew survived, but Roelof was not so lucky.


Anna Swaen-van Sijdenburg inherits the building after the tragic death of Roelof Swaen. In 1698 she marries a wealthy widower, merchant and appraiser of precious metals Andrias Gallus Grill. He was the son of a surgeon and was born in Zaandam, just North of Amsterdam. His first wife was his cousin Catharina Grill, whose name he adds to his own. This was done often for business purposes. The double name of his second wife Anna indicates that she might have been a widow herself.


After the death of Anthony Grill, a descendant of Anna and Andrias, the building is passed onto Christiaan Hulst in 1734, to pay off a debt. Together with his brother he runs a company in coals and a forge where they make anchors.


When owner Christiaan Hulst died, the building was gifted to Ludewina Wijnanda van Keulen. It was passed on through her mother, who was related to Christiaan. Ludewina hailed from a family of cartographers. One of her forefathers, Johannes van Keulen, had a successful business printing naval charts and sea maps. His son took over the business, and in turn passed it on to his son and so forth. Among others, the Dutch East India Company would get their maps here


After Ludewina died in 1808, the property was sold in 1811. Very little is known about any owners after, as there are no deeds to be found anymore.


From 1853 onwards, Singel 83 was the address of Pension Het Blauwe Kruis. This was a hostel for Catholics who renounced alcohol. It’s the first documented use of the building as a place to spend the night. Next door, on number 85, is a carry and dispatch service.


In The early years of the 20th Century, the building of hotel served a rather odd, dual purpose. Number 83 was still a hostel and coffee house for those who abstained from alcohol. Next door, on number 85, was a liquor store.


In 1940, when troops invade the Netherlands, the building on Singel 83 is passed onto Gerrit Jan Brouwer. He was a carpenter who had come from the island of Texel to help renovate Hotel Schiller on Rembrandt Square. Miss Rebel, the owner of the hostel and coffee house for abstainers, thought he was an ideal candidate to take over. It was called the “Blue Cross”, the name indicating that no alcohol was allowed to be consumed on the premises.


The name then changed to Hotel Brouwer, a popular option for tourists with a limited budget who were in Amsterdam for a shorter stay. Arthur Frommer even mentions the hotel in his 1957 book ‘Europe on 5 dollars a day’. Travellers could leave business cards, notes or personal messages, that the owner would pin the giant chandelier in the main room, today’s breakfast room.


From 1983 until 2019, Wim Brouwer is the owner of the hotel. Before, he was already partner in the business with his mother and uncle, but when Gerrit Jan Brouwer dies, he is gifted the hotel as an heir.


In 2018, after 100 years in the caring hands of the family Brouwer, a new family is adding to the history and future of the stately building in the city centre of Amsterdam, under the name: Hotel The Craftsmen.