A gable stone for a time traveller from the past

The municipality of Amsterdam recently posted a short article about the life and works of George Hendrik Breitner. The post included a picture of Oude Looiersstraat taken around 1896.

Oude Looiersstraat circa 1896Oude Looiersstraat circa 1896

I recently happened to be in the general neighbourhood of this picture and decided to check if the houses were still around. The houses in the picture had been torn down. A sturdy, relatively modern apartment complex stood there in their stead. And while the original numbering scheme had been re-jigged; possibly to account for the increased number of dwellings, odd-numbered houses still occupied the same side of the street1.

Oude Looiersstraat circa 2019Oude Looiersstraat circa 2019

But one thing from the original structure was still intact - the gable stone!

Gable Stone: 1786 - De Hoek SteenGable Stone: 1786 - De Hoek Steen

Unlike in the original 1896 photo, its top half was no longer occluded by a pipe, and a coat of fresh paint had clearly been applied to it. I found this practice of leaving the original gable stone in the new building oddly touching. As if left there to help a time traveller from 1890s find their way around…

p.s. The inscription on the gable stone translates to The Cornerstone.

  1. I wrote about the odd-even house numbering in Amsterdam a few years ago.↩︎

November 23, 2019