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Design for the collector-general's house in Nieuw-Amsterdam


Design for the collector-general's house in Nieuw-Amsterdam

Herlin, Jan Carel Willem

Title Leupe: Plans, platte gronden, opstanden voor gebouwen voor de nieuwe stad, het gouvernement enz.

The military engineer Jan Carel Willem Herlin, who arrived in Berbice early in 1780 and was d’Arnaud’s successor, drew a design in that same year for the new main guard in Fort Nassau (in fact still the provisional fortifications of 1764), which only reached the republic in 1785. In response to his new main guard proposal, the directors informed him that both that plan and any subsequent plans for Nieuw-Amsterdam would not be required because they had meanwhile asked Abraham van der Hart to produce a whole new range of plans for the town.

Herlin was instructed to henceforth channel his energy into reinforcing Fort Sint Andries and the other posts on the lower reaches of the Berbice so that the colony would become more resistant to possible attacks from the sea (see VEL1619). At the same time, he had to ensure that Nieuw-Amsterdam remained sufficiently defended to prevent it from having to be evacuated, as in 1763, in the event of another slave rebellion. Finally, he was to construct the governor’s official residence as well as that of the collector-general.

For the latter building the façade, the back side, two profiles, two technical drawings of the beam constructions and a floor plan is presented here. Its location would appear to be indicated on the cartographer’s map VEL1659, indicated with the number (1). In 1785, the engineer was promised a bonus of 2000 guilders upon completion, partly by way of compensation for his forfeited income of previous years. After all, during the British and French occupation Herlin had remained at his post. He was allowed to use the house as a temporary dwelling until the collector-general transferred his office from the old Nieuw-Amsterdam location. On Herlin’s design drawing shown here it is somewhat emphatically noted that it is 'newly constructed', which puts the dating at c. 1789.

Scale-bar of 48 Rhineland feet = 12 ‘strepen’.

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Sources and literature

Heijer, H. den, Grote Atlas van de West-Indische Compagnie = Comprehensive Atlas of the Dutch West India Company, II, de nieuwe WIC 1674-1791 = the new WIC 1674-1791 (2012)

Netscher, P.M., Geschiedenis van de koloniën Essequebo, Demerary en Berbice, van de vestiging der Nederlanders... (1888)

Bosman, Lex, Nieuw Amsterdam in Berbice (Guyana). De planning en bouw van een koloniale stad, 1764-1800 (1994)