Frans Loenenhofje is a lively almshouse in Haarlem founded in 1607, from the legacy of Frans Klaeszoon Loenen, a wealthy unmarried Amsterdam merchant who traded in clothing. It was built on the former St. Anthony’s monastery famed orchard, inhabited by Norbertine monks dating back to 1414. Frans Loenen almshouse started out with eleven free rooms for eleven poor single Catholic women. The courtyard was soon expanded in 1609 with a further five rooms. Due to modernization, now the almshouse consists of ten modern houses, a regent’s room and a garden pavilion.
If you happen to visit …
Take a careful look at the detailed entrance gate. It was built in 1625 in Dutch Renaissance style by the city architect, Lieven de Key, famous for his works in Haarlem. It is a beautiful gate.
Look up and admire the coat of arms above the door. The unique plaque depicts Frans Loenenhofje’s crest that is a decapitated lion or headless lion. Interesting!
Within the surrounding courtyard garden, you will find various old plants, fruit trees and some 17th-century vines.
There are several green wooden benches with engraved words “BENE VIXIT QUI BENE LATUIT”, which means “Whoever Lives in the Shelter, Lives Well”.
On a wall in the garden against the church building, a specially designed sundial reads both the time and day of death of Frans Loenen (24 October).
Last but not least, the garden is supposedly illuminated by four original gas lanterns every evenings.
Frans Loenenhofje has been around for 400 years. The conditions to live in such a rental home (generally all almshouses) still did not differ much. To be eligible for a home, you have to express your desire in writing before you are placed on the waiting list. In addition, you must also meet the conditions set by the municipality of Haarlem to be a woman around 55 years of age, single and unmediated. When a home is available, a number of candidates will be invited for an interview with the regents. It is a very exclusive community living!
Frans Loenenhofje is open freely for visitors Mondays to Saturdays from 10am – 5pm. Press the big black knob under the signage “deuropener” to enter. The green entrance door opens and closes automatically.
Please respect the privacy of the residents so no peeking through windows into their homes!
Note: You can also visit Luthers Hofje for free a few doors down and admire a former almshouse of Coomanshofje’s gateway merely steps away, both located on the same street.
Address: Witte Herenstraat 24. 2011NW Haarlem.
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm. No access on Sundays.