The Quaker and the nursery school

The Quaker and the Nursery School

The Beren­straat (Bear’s Street) is probably named after the bear skin trade in this area, related to the tanneries which could be found in the adjacent Jordaan in the 17th century.

Berenstraat in Amsterdam in 2021

Berenstraat in Amsterdam in 2021, one of the 9 straatjes (9 little streets). On the left the nursery school.

In the Berenstraat, at number 7, a Neo-Gothic building houses a nursery school named “Amsterdams Wel­varen”. Above the door a gable stone depicts a sailing three-master.

Berenstraat 7, gable stone with three-master

Berenstraat 7, gable stone with three-master “Amsterdam’s Welvaren” (Amsterdam’s Prosperity).

Under the middle window on the first floor a gable stone showing a bear tied to a tree with a flower in his right paw. Discovered at the back of the building in 1949, it was moved to the front of the building after restoration. On top of the chimney a sailing ship in metal, added in 1864 with the current gable.

Gable stone on the first floor of Berenstraat 7

The gable stone on the first floor of Berenstraat 7.

Metal three-master on top of the chimney of Beren­straat 7

The metal three-master on top of the chimney of Beren­straat 7.

Seized by the English navy

The Dutch vessel Amsterdam’s Welvaren, on its voyage back from Curaçao (in the Caribbean Sea), was seized by the British navy in 1781, during the American Revolution. The English suspected the ship had trans­ported weapons to the Americans. They started to escort the ship to an Irish port, but it was wrecked on the Irish coast before reaching the harbour. The insurance money was paid to the new English “owners”.

Side view of Berenstraat 7

Side view of Berenstraat 7.

John Warder

John Warder was a Quaker merchant from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who had arrived in England in 1776 to safe­guard his family business during the American Revolution. In 1778 he met Ann Head (daughter from a Quaker family in Ipswich, England) and they married in 1779. The Warders lived in London after their marriage, and John intended to make England his permanent home.

John was one of the benificiaries of the insurance money, but as a Quaker he did not want to profit from a wartime incident. He handed his cut (1,800 Pound Sterling) to an administrator to invest in public funds and instructed them to find the original Dutch entitled party.

View of the nursery school at Beren­straat 7 in Amsterdam (2021)

View of the nursery school at Beren­straat 7 in Amsterdam (2021)

The English investment company then designated the now enlarged capital to be used for “a building with a useful service in the city of Amsterdam”. Thus, in 1828, the first Dutch nursery school was founded — with John Warder’s initials set in the door posts. Initially the school had 30 children of 2 to 6 years old, but in 1850 they already had more than 100 pupils. And soon many more such schools were founded through­out Amsterdam.

Big Bear and Little Bear

On the Keizers­gracht 316, corner with the Beren­straat, Big Bear (Groote Beer) and Little Bear (Kleine Beer), built in 1935 and also a national monument. The building has 4 layers on the Keizers­gracht and only three layers on the Beren­straat.

The Kleine Beer on the Beren­straat, corner Keizers­gracht

The Kleine Beer on the Beren­straat, corner Keizers­gracht.

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