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Local group saves centuries-old carpenter's shop from demolition

Opened for business in 1642

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

DE LIER, the Netherlands - A carpenter's shop which since its opening date in 1642 had been owned by a succession of such tradesmen has a new lease on life after five years of vacancy and now is destined to become a cultural crafts workshop.

The building's loft will be home to an museum of (carpenter's) tools. Located in De Lier's town centre, the adjacent home of the generations of carpenters also has been given a new purpose as a local meeting facility. Both buildings were designated as monuments and now are being restored to their former beauty.

Six years ago, a small group of local residents formed a foundation for the preservation of the site, one year before shop owner Kees Koene retired from his business. His property had become a prime location for redevelopment. The Stichting De Timmerwerf successfully lobbied to have demolition plans put on hold and then secured the designation heritage site for the property.

The shop had escaped attention during earlier efforts to identify local monuments but during the evaluation process of the application, a visiting expert exclaimed that the foundation had discovered a ‘Rembrandt of monuments.’

Historic homes and shops often reveal treasures or surprises when restoration work is underway. De Lier's carpenter shop is no exception. In the dusty loft the group found a tool chest which for generations had stood locked in a corner. Its owner, a carpenter's helper, had left it there about century ago and the chest remained unclaimed since. The building contained an array of items and tools carpenters used over the centuries.