Church ‘De Duif’

Prinsengracht 756
Theo Molkenboer, restauratie: Archivolt architecten

It takes some finding, but tucked away behind a row of trees and between a number of canalside buildings, at number 756 Prinsengracht is the church ‘De Duif’(‘the dove’). The name De Duif dates from the seventeenth century when the parish organized services in the clandestine church ‘Het Vrededuifje’ (‘the dove of peace’) in Kerkstraat. When at the end of the eighteenth century a plot became available elsewhere following a major fire, the parish of the Vrededuifje relocated to a brick building on Prinsengracht. As a result of the restructuring of the episcopal hierarchy, in the mid nineteenth century De Duif was designated one of the nine parish churches in Amsterdam. A threefold increase in the number of parishioners and the poor state of the building resulted in plans for a new, larger church. This new church building, designed by the prolific church architect Theo Molkenboer, was completed in 1857.

The exterior of the building is in a rather modest, neo-Classical style. This style is evident in the decorated façade with columns and a triangular section, the tympanum, above. A golden dove can be discerned right at the top of the facade. The interior comes as a surprise. It is richly decorated with statues and colourful wall paintings. The church has a large Smits organ, named after the renowned Brabant organ builder.

Due to declining church attendance and shortage of funds, over the course of the twentieth century the building gradually fell into disrepair. When it was threatened with demolition in the late seventies, it was occupied by a number of passionate parishioners. They went to great lengths to preserve the church until it was eventually, in1995, acquired by the Amsterdam Monuments Fund (now Stadsherstel). They purchased the building from the bishopric of Haarlem for a symbolic sum and restoration began under the direction of the architectural office Peters and Borgers. The church was taken into use in 2002. In 2006, the unique Smits organ was also restored and now has national and local listed status.

Stadsherstel is the current owner of the building. This Amsterdam firm saves distinctive and historic buildings, restores them and gives them a suitable new use. In many cases, the buildings are rented out, while Stadsherstel, as owner, is responsible for their maintenance. De Duif is currently a cultural and social centre and can be rented for various uses. On Sundays, the church is reserved for the services of the ecumenical community De Duif.
(Arcam / Yvonne de Korte)