More information on T. Henry Reetz

In the mean time I have been digging up some more information on the architect mentioned in my previous post: T. Henry Reetz, though it is hard to really get a grip on this architect.

He was born in France, in 1685, and probably moved to Berlin soon after. He must have had an early talent for drawing, because the first architectural drawings we know of are dated 1695 -he was ten years old then. In 1706 he is enlisted in the Brandenburg army, as an architect and engineer. On the 5th of July 1706, Reetz was ordered by the “Geheimen Rat” (secret counsil) to draw reconstruction plans for the Moritzburg in Halle. The drawings have survived, but there are no signs that the plans have actually been executed. In 1707 he traveled into Italy, and after 1713 (the year the Prussian king Frederick I died and in which Hofarchitekt Johann Friedrich Eosander left the court as well) Reetz went to Paris. Continue reading

Discovery: unknown design from 1706 for Het Loo

The Cascade weblog presents a picture of the latest discovery concerning Paleis Het Loo in Apeldoorn: a previously unknown design for its gardens. The design is dated 1706 and made by T. Henry Reetz (1680-1765), “königlich preußischen und kurhannoverschen Hofarchitekten” in Berlin.

At the time, Reetz worked for one of the people who unsuccessfully claimed rights to the Dutch throne after William III died in 1702 (thus ending the dynasty of part of the Nassau family): Frederick I, King of Prussia.
Reetz also drew designs for three other Dutch palace gardens Frederick had set his eyes on. The designs must be seen as a serious preparation for his rise to the throne. It must also have been one of the first serious projects for the young architect -of which I know next to nothing: even Thieme-Becker does not mention his name.

Cascade’s next bulletin (2006-2) will feature a complete article about these discoveries, written by the curator of Het Loo’s gardens: Ben Groen.

Groundwater quarrels at Paleis Het Loo

Update (Feb. 4, 2007): the site of the province Gelderland provides us with a report on the ins and outs of the way the groundwater surrounding Paleis Het Loo is affected by the extraction of water on behalf of the museum’s fountains. It also gives a nice look at the complexities of managing fountains at a site like this, where not only economical and ecological issues are important, but where the quality of the water and the vulnerability of the materials the fountains are made of also come into play. The report is in Dutch.

Nationaal Museum Paleis Het Loo has almost been penalised, because of leakages in the basin in the Venus fountain. In order to sustain the waterlevel in the fountain, fresh water had to be drawn from the soil, causing major changes to groundwater levels in the surrounding areas.


‘t Loo palace in Apeldoorn/ Holland
Originally uploaded by Maup Smits en zijn foto’s worldwide.

The provincial government threatened the museum with a fine, but has decided yesterday (November 7th, 2006) not to pursue. A request from the museum to withdraw more water has been approved by the province of Gelderland, which argued that in the past two quarters the museum kept groundwater withdrawals within the existing limits. Ironic in this respect is the fact that one of the main jobs of our crown prince is… water management. Think he’s pulled some strings on this one? After all, Paleis Het Loo is a former Royal Palace…

The Beeckestijn story finally continues..

After the summer holidays, which seamlessly followed the political dolldrums of the aftermath of the local elections in spring, some new developments concerning Beeckestijn can finally be noticed.Beeckestijn
First, the new councillor responsible for Beeckestijn came with a rather peculiar statement. As the former council had almost sold Beeckestijn, there was no room anymore for a civil servant concerned with the estate. The councillor (of the D66 party) declared she now needs to find someone to do that job. You’d think she already knew that by the end of April? So what’s keeping her? Continue reading

Commercial Beeckestijn

Beeckestijn popped up in a Dutch television commercial recently. Wait for or skip to the second half of the video. Visible are the stairways to the 1719 pond and the pond itself, the 1960’s berceau and the flower garden.

Beeckestijn's flower garden

Given the troublesome position Beeckestijn is in at the moment, it would be nice when part of the revenues from this commercial could be used to prevent the estate from being sold. Unfortunately, that is not possible, because Beeckestijn is a public park. On the other hand, if Beeckestijn would be able to receive money from production teams, it probably wouldn’t have been picked as a location.
I guess they were glad they didn’t need to record live sound (so they could mix the dorky song in afterwards): last time I visited the garden, I heard one of these planes cruising overhead every 90 seconds or so.

A lost and gone menagerie

menagerie 1772The menagerie at Beeckestijn, which might be recreated in the future, has not existed for very long. We first hear of it in the early 1760’s and it was probably replaced by a greenhouse in 1784 (which in its turn was demolished in 1957). The fact that the new coalition for the preservance of Beeckestijn has produced plans in which both a menagerie and a greenhouse are among the star attractions, and at the same time suggest that by doing so, the history of this garden can be respected seems a bit odd.

That being said, it is ofcourse true that in order to preserve a location like this, one sometimes needs to cut a few corners to reach a valuable compromise. I should say I fully support the job these people and organisations are doing, and I am glad that the State Secretary for culture has opposed the plans of the counsil of Velsen to sell Beeckestijn to the highest bidder, because the proposed sale conflicted with their own rules for selling the estate.

Animals to save Beeckestijn

An interesting idea for the preservation of Beeckestijn. This museum and important historical garden in Velsen is in danger of being sold to parties who will probably not see the recently restored gardens as an asset.
The Stichting Vrienden van Beeckestijn (foundation of Friends of Beeckestijn) launched some plans (in Dutch), one of which is to keep a collection of wild animals at the estate in an attempt to attract tourists. At the moment, the future of council-owned Beeckestijn is uncertain; the museum is now closed, awaiting a decision concerning its future. The foundation states the unknown new owners should need to strengthen the bonds between the museum and the gardens, the wildlife being one of the means to do that.

This is a fine idea, however it will all depend on the way things are set up. The original 18th century design of the Beeckestijn gardens included a Menagerie, a recluse for exotic animals. We know there was a greenhouse around the 1800’s.
A few suggestions: we know there has been a white cockatoo in the 1760’s. From previously unpublished correspondence of Willem Boreel, son of the owner, we know that he’d ordered a few specimen of the ‘Rossignol de Virginie’ in 1765.