As you walk along Haarlem’s secret almshouses, Frans Loenenhofje and Luthers Hofje, on Witte Herenstraat, you will also come across the third almshouse called the Coomanshofje (translation: Coomans Almshouse). But all that remained is nothing but just an entrance gate.
The first dwellings on this almshouse started in 1613. It was founded by Koopmansgilde, a local merchant’s guild. It provided a total of eleven homes made available to poor guild members. Rent was requested during the course of the 18th century until 1854 when the almshouse was sold. Eventually, the local municipal archivist A.J. Enschedé acquired the property in 1871. Enschedé demolished all eleven small courtyard houses, but kept the guild house as a folly for his new garden plot called the Paradise.
Today, only the gateway is still visible next to the guild house. It has a gable stone right above it. The capstone shows Sint Nicolaas or Sinterklaas, the patron saint of the guild, with two children and the almshouse’s coat of arm on the top left hand corner; an arm coming from a cloud holding a scale. In addition, ” ‘t Coomans Hof Ao1609 ” is stated below it.
The garden plot is now a children’s playground called the Speeltuin Het Paradijsje.
The guild house of Coomanshofje is not open for viewing. Please do not ring the doorbell!
Above is just a little back story if you ever happen to venture around Witte Herenstraat.
You may want to visit Frans Loenenhofje and Luthers Hofje, two almshouses open freely for visitors Mondays to Saturdays from 10am – 5pm, located on the same street.
Address: Witte Herenstraat 30. 2011NW Haarlem.