Het Witte Huis (The White House)
Wait, the white house? that’s in America, right? Yes, but Europe has a really famous one as well. Het Witte Huis is the first skyscraper in the Netherlands. Some people believe it is the first skyscraper in Europe, but we do not know that for sure. However, what we do know is that it used to be the tallest building in Europe (with 43 meters height) at the end of the 19th century. Additionally, this national monument is one of the few buildings in the city centre that survived the bombing of Rotterdam in 1940. Now, it is even on the UNESCO world heritage list! In our guided bike and walking tours we can tell you everything about Het Witte Huis. But for now, you can check out a short introduction about this highlight in Rotterdam below.
History of Het Witte Huis in Rotterdam
In 1897, the office building was developed by two brothers from Rotterdam: Gerrit and Herman van der Schuijt. When one of the brothers, Gerrit, undertook a trip to the USA in 1894 he got inspired by the collection of office buildings and skyscrapers in New York. The brothers already owned a few buildings on the corner of the Wijnhaven and the Gelderskade. However, they just demolished these to make room for Het Witte Huis. In June 1897, the construction of Het Witte Huis in Rotterdam was started.
The architect with whom they realized their idea was architect Willem Molenbroek. The design of Het Witte Huis is in American Art Nouveau style. However, it was built with bricks instead of the steel structures that are used in America.
The construction of the White House
The construction of this skyscraper was carried out by contractor J.H. Adjuster. He had the lowest bid of f. 127,900 with the tender. Nevertheless, Het Witte Huis would not be built for this amount because the building was way more expensive than expected. Moreover, The construction of the 11-storey skyscraper was a bold plan because, at that time in Europe, most building rarely exceeded five floors. Sceptics even claimed that the weak soil of Rotterdam would not be able to support the building sufficiently.
The dimensions of the first construction plan were 15 by 20 meters. However, during the construction, an adjacent building collapsed. This was due to the operation of the ground when piling the required piles. The adjacent building was further demolished and the vacated land was used for the White House. Now, instead of the planned 15 x 20 meters, the final construction the dimensions are 20 by 20 meters. The official opening took place on 8 September 1898. Did you know that it is located near other city hotspots in Rotterdam such as the Old Harbour and the Cube Houses?