Boomhuis (tree house)

At the end of the middle-ages, the Boomklok (tree bell), sounded sunset, a warning that the barriers, or ‘trees’, were going to close Amsterdam port for the night. The first Tolhuis (toll house) was built close to the Boomklok in 1662. Ships had to pay for passage on the new Buikslotertrekvaart (canal) that linked Amsterdam, through the Volewijck area to Waterland in the north.

 

Buiksloterweg 7, Tolhuistuin (toll house garden)

Inn

Many travellers unable to enter the city, requested the toll collector, who lived and had his office in the Tolhuis, for a place to sleep. Before long he was owner of a bustling inn. Apart from sailors, many day trippers from the nearby galgenveld (gallows) visited the Tolhuis.

 

Tolhuistuin terrace, 2009

Pleasure garden and festivities

The current Tolhuis was opened with great anticipation in 1859. Everyone was curious about the new ontspanningslokaal, place of entertainment, and within three weeks it had attracted three thousand visitors. One of the leaseholders had turned the gardens of the Tolhuis into a pleasure garden with shooting ranges, archery, bowls and a theatre. Couples in love meandered along the winding paths through the greenery. Crowds of people came to listen to the park orchestra in the music tent under the old trees. Once a year pauper children from the Jordaan neighbourhood of Amsterdam came to play for a day.

 

Tolhuistuin with Overhoekstoren in background, 2008

A new start

In 1938, Shell took possession of the premises, until Amsterdam bought it back in 2008. The garden is well visited in summer by lovers of music, film and art. The whole complex will open in late 2011, after the rebuilding of the pavilion.