The Story of Hotel Pulitzer, A Canal House Hotel in Amsterdam at the Prinsengracht.
Hotel Pulitzer is a canal house hotel in Amsterdam where the old merchant houses that are part of this hotel at the Prinsengracht all tell their own story - closely linked to the general story of Amsterdam. The canals closest to Dam Square were considered more upmarket. Hence the houses along the Keizersgracht tend to be bigger and more imposing than the houses along the Prinsengracht. Many houses along the Prinsengracht doubled as shops, and a number of them were warehouses, including some houses incorporated into Hotel Pulitzer, making up the canal house hotel it is today.
It is still fairly easy to trace the history of "your canal house" in Hotel Pulitzer. Rooms along the "residential" Keizersgracht have carpet and typically have higher ceilings than the rooms along the Prinsengracht. This is particularly so in the ground floor rooms facing the Keizersgracht canal as these rooms were meant to impress guests and entertain. The rooms on the higher floors and those facing the inner courtyards and gardens served as kitchens and bedrooms, and have lower ceilings in order to keep them warm in the winter. Many houses along the Prinsengracht were warehouses and shops. Hence, Prinsengracht hotel bedrooms these rooms have wooden floors. Many Prinsengracht hotel rooms also feature the original brick walls of the warehouses.
The first houses
The first canal houses in Amsterdam along "our" canals were built around 1615. The canal houses on the corner of the Keizersgracht and Reestraat (housing our restaurant, bar and bedrooms ending with numbers between 60 and 79) were originally owned by a wealthy grocer named Daniel Mostaert and a brass founder called Volkert Jansz. Around 1625 the houses are sold to individual owners. The little garden mansion housing (rooms 157 and 158) was originally part of these houses along the Keizersgracht but was later sold separately and was connected to the canal by a narrow alley.
Saxenburg, Rembrandt & the American War of Independence
Hotel Pulitzer is a canal house hotel in Amsterdam where the imposing mansion at Keizersgracht 224 has been the main house along this part of the canals since 1620 and stood at the centre of a large estate, in it's heyday almost similar in size to today's hotel. The original house was built by the barley merchant Jan Egbertsz. In 1615, together with the two neighboring canal houses. These houses incorporate today's bedrooms in this canal house hotel ending with numbers between 80 and 99, as well as a number of meeting and banquet rooms. Egbertsz lived in the canal house on number 224 until his death in 1621, and is buried in the Nieuwe Kerk on Dam Square in Amsterdam centre.
The new owner of the plot is the grocer Hans Lenaertsz from the Peperbael, a shop on the Nieuwendijk. Lenaertsz was born in Cologne, Germany, and married Marritje Cocks from Amsterdam in 1593. He named his new and large house "De Saxenburg", but the couple only enjoyed their mansion for a short period. Lenaertsz died young, in 1624, followed by his wife in 1626. Archive material shows that De Saxenburg is a large canal house with a turret and a small gate on the North Side (which is still there today). The gate leads to four back residences. The new owner continued to extend his property. In 1630 he purchased Prinsengracht 315, 317, 319 and 321 (todays Prinsengracht hotel bedrooms ending with numbers 12 through 19 and 31 through 51), today an important part of this Amsterdam Prinsengracht Hotel .
In the 1630's Christoffel Thijs and Magdalena Belten become the owners of the Saxenburg estate. Their previous house in the Jodenbreestraat is bought by Rembrandt. In 1651 the artist immortalizes in paint the countryhouse of the Christoffels in Bloemendaal, also called De Saxenburg. It is certainly conceivable, considering the close relation between the Christoffels and Rembrandt, that at least part of the painting was painted in one of the rooms of De Saxenburg estate! In August 1680 Christoffel Thijs died and the estate again switched owners a number of times until, in March 1765, it is sold to the merchant Jan de Neufville. De Neufville transformed De Saxenburg mansion into a modern eighteenth century canal house but is eventually declared bankrupt following shady deals with the American colonies rising in revolt against Britain. His deals were in fact the start of the fourth Anglo-Dutch war, and De Neufville died in poverty in Alabama.
Van Rensselaer & the founding of New Amsterdam
During the same era, another family very active in the development of the Dutch North American colonies (centred around the city of New Amsterdam - todays New York) and later in the early development of the independent United States is the van Rensselaer family. Killian van Rensselaer moved from a small village in the Province of Overijssel to Amsterdam and became a member of the board of the Dutch West India Company. His residence was at Prinsengracht 323 & 325 (todays Prinsengracht hotel rooms ending with numbers 09, 10, 25 and 27 - 30). His achievements and name are virtually forgotten in the Netherlands, where he is buried in the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam, but his name lives on in the United States with the villages of Rensselaer and Rensselaerswijck in the New York area bearing the family name, as well as a university named after him. The van Rensselaers purchase a number of other houses that are part of today's hotel (Prinsengracht 327, 329) but from the early 1800's the family fortunes in the Netherlands decline, and they face competition in their possessiveness from the owners of the Saxenburg estate.
After Jan de Neufville, the wealthy dye and indigo merchant Pieter van Winter is the next owner of the Saxenburg estate, although by now some of the canal houses along the Prinsengracht had been sold individually and are no longer part of the property. Winter buys some of the van Rensselaer possessions along the Prinsengracht around 1792. All are now part of Hotel Pulitzer (room numbers ending with 00 to 09 and 20 to 28). In 1796 he purchases De Goudsbloem sugar refinery and residence, now Prinsengracht 323 (Prinsengracht hotel rooms ending with numbers 10 and 30). He rebuilds number 323 into a coach house, again called Saxenburg. The ground floor serves as the hotel lobby today! Pieter van Winter and his wife die in 1807 and by now a period of economic decline and stagnation has set over the city. Eventually the houses are converted into office and factory space. De Saxenburg house itself had the indignity of being used as a chocolate factory before being renovated into office space for an insurance agency! The residence was finally purchased by Hotel Pulitzer in 1986, during the last extension to date of the hotel.