The Sint Luciënsteeg (Saint Lucia Alley) is a narrow street which runs between the Kalverstraat and the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal. On a small square next to the alley a remarkable shop and a large number of gable stones. At number 27 there is an entrance gate of the Amsterdam Museum, which used to be the Saint Lucia Convent (Sint Luciënklooster) in the Middle Ages and the Burgerweeshuis (Citizen’s Orphanage) from 1579 onward.
Saved Gable Stones
Along one of the outer walls of the Amsterdam Museum you can see a kind of open air museum of gable stones, nicknamed the Gable Stone Museum.
These 47 stones were saved from demolished houses and attached to the wall here in the years 1924-1927, with extensive restoration in 2012-2013. Many stones have an interesting history. The initiative came from the Vereniging Vrienden van Amsterdamse Gevelstenen (VVAG, Society of Friends of Amsterdam Gable Stones). Website VVAG: https://www.gevelstenenvanamsterdam.nl/
Saint Lucia Convent
In 1414 one Coptgin Ysebrandtsz donated a terrain next to the Begijnhof to the sisters, who erected the convent here, the first of three convents on the New Side. A chapel and a graveyard followed in 1433. The current Sint Luciënsteeg (Saint Lucia Alley) was constructed in 1532, connecting the Kalverstraat with a bridge across the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal. The remaining point of the convent terrain was given by the city to carpenter Jacob Jansz in 1536. The other side of the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal was then named Boommarkt (Tree Market).
The convent had a brewery and looms and they also rented out terrains and houses inside and outside the city. When Amsterdam was walled in by the end of the 15th century, the city was soon bursting at the seams with the growing population. By 1513 there were 21 convents in Amsterdam, taking up a lot of precious terrain in an overcrowded city.
Because convents were exempt from municipal and other taxes, they sold their surplus bread, beer and cloth way below the prices of the guilds. Many measures were taken to correct this, including a ban on gifts and heritages in 1480, which led to convent poverty. With the Protestant Alteration in 1578 the convents were expropriated and given new destinations.
Burgerweeshuis (Citizen’s Orphanage)
On March 31, 1579 the Saint Lucia Convent with all its properties was handed over to the regents of the Burgerweeshuis (Citizen’s Orphanage). There were at that time still 16 sisters in the convent (31 to 67 years old). Six sisters moved to houses in the St. Luciënsteeg which they owned. They were given pensions by the city for the rest of their lives, until in 1633 the last sister died.
The orphans, who had unil then lived in the Kalverstraat near the Holy Stead Chapel, moved to the former convent in 1580. The Burgerweeshuis also received the terrain and belongings of the former Kartuizerklooster (Carthusian Convent from 1394 in the current Jordaan, arsoned in 1572 by protesters) and the revenue of the Kapel ter Heilige Stede (Holy Stead Chapel).
In 1632-1635 it was heavily restructured, the Oude Mannen- en Vrouwenhuis (House for Old Men and Women) on the Kalverstraat added to the orphanage as the boys section. Each section now had their own courtyard with separate entrances, the girls on the Sint Luciënsteeg and the boys on the Kalverstraat.
The orphanage here lasted until 1966 when it moved to the IJsbaanpad. After extensive restructuring from 1966 to 1975 the buildings became the Amsterdam Museum (then Amsterdam Historical Museum). The entire premises are a national monument.
At St. Luciënsteeg 23-25 you find the lovely shop of Posthumus from 1865, dealing in all kinds of high-quality stamps and lacquer stamps, hand engraving, embossing, old-fashioned writing equipment and more. They also carry beautiful stationary, cards and envelopes from an upscale Italian paper maker.
Posthumus still sell all kinds of things which can’t be easily found elsewhere anymore, attracting visitors and online orders from all over the world. In 1920 they received the seal of Purveyor to the Court from Queen Wilhelmina (1880–1962). Nathalie and Peter Breurken took over the shop from Posthumus in 2005 and continue to uphold the quality craftmanship. The Posthumus factory (which has moved to the Sloterdijk area) still supplies them.
Many city businesses use their stamps, like Loetje (a steak house) for their tables, Holtkamp patissery for their chocolates and many hotel bars for stamping their ice cubes. Their customers are banks, lawyers, notaries, bailiffs and businesses at Schiphol Airport too.
Website Posthumus: https://www.posthumuswinkel.nl/
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