Just like the Schapenburgerpad behind the P.C. Hooftstraat, the Zandpad (Sand Path) inside the current Vondelpark is a remnant of a centuries old polder path. Around 1860 Amsterdam ended at the Leidsebosje, with the Leidsepoort (Leiden Gate). The Overtoom was then still an important waterway, with lots of industry and crafts located along it. The path was mentioned in 1688 as Sandtpadt, a private road, with a fence as demarcation — a cooperation of owners had a contract with the city.
Buildings on the Zandpad
Apart from the big building of the former Amsterdamsche Huishoudschool (now Stayokay Hostel) the former polder path still has some houses which were once used by Amsterdam families as summer residences.
- Zandpad 2c – Orangerie from 1890, national monument, remnant of pre-city building.
- Zandpad 3 – Gardener’s House from 1853, national monument, remnant of pre-city garden buildings. Around 1910 this house, the Orangerie at 2c and the garden house at 4 were all in the backgarden of the house at Tesselschadestraat 9, before they were split off. Around 1950 this was Pottery factory De Marmot (The Groundhog).
- Zandpad 3a – Former pathological laboratory from 1920 of the Tesselschade hospital, which stood at the corner of the Tesselschadestraat and Stadhouderskade and was closed in 1937. The hospital was demolished in the 1980s to be replaced by the Byzantium building by architect Rem Koolhaas at the entrance of the Vondelpark, considered an ugly abomination by many in that spot. The upper part (lighter bricks) of the building at Zandpad 3a was added after 1991. From 2015 the building was rented out as office space. The building, in tighter Amsterdam School style, was renovated in 2020 and made into four apartments.
- Zandpad 4 – Het Tuinhuisje, garden house from a private villa from 1893, half hidden behind number 3a.
- Zandpad 5 – Stayokay hostel (former Amsterdamse Huishoudschool) from 1896, municipal monument.
- Zandpad 7 – Private villa from 1897, 340 m² (1,115 ft²), sold for € 4,5 million ($ 5,3 million) in 2019.
From 1896 until 1983, the current Stayokay hostel was the Amsterdamsche Huishoudschool (Amsterdam Housekeeping School), located at one of the entrances to the Vondelpark at Zandpad 5. The school was built in chalet style, designed by architect C.B. Posthumus Meyjes, renovated a few times. The two female founders aimed to provide schooling (cooking, ironing, repairing clothes, etc.) for future housewives as well as for those seeking employment as a housekeeper.
One of the cooking class teachers, C.J. Wannée, wrote a cookbook which is still reprinted today. I remember my mom occasionally looking up traditional recipes in this cookbook. Until 1969 lessons continued in the building at Zandpad 5, which became a municipal monument in 2009.
Sleeping in the Park
In the early 1970s Amsterdam was being promoted as a “magical center” and became a magnet for hippies from all over the world. Even KLM Airlines jumped on the bandwagon with their slogan “Fly KLM, sleep in the Vondelpark”. The open-air sleepers (estimated at around 10,000 per night during peak summers) increasingly brought tents to the park, making the park resemble a camping site. In 1974 the former school was restructured to become a hostel. When the city prohibited sleeping in the open air in the Vondelpark, the hostel provided an alternative to park sleepers and homeless.
In 1992 the hostel, which had previously operated on idealistic premises, went commercial and proposed to build a 500 beds hotel next to the former school, demolishing the White Villa’s garden, where one of the founders of the housekeeping school had lived. They also wanted to demolish three 19th-century buildings on the Roemer Visscherstraat. A cooperation of citizens tried to block these plans, but they only succeeded in preventing the demolishing of the houses on the Roemer Visscherstraat and in limiting the height of the new hostel extension to 14 meters (46 ft).
The hostel has also applied in 2019, just before the council limited further increase of the catering industry in the neighbourhood, for a full license to exploit a large public cafe and restaurant. Local residents have started a petition against this and have also nicknamed the hostel The Stayaway.
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