Architect A.C. Boerma (1852-1908) worked for the Amsterdam City Council. In addition to this, he also designed for individuals, including his famous Huis met de Kabouters (house with the hobgoblins). Another example of his work was the striking Café ‘De Bisschop’ on the corner of the Damrak, which has now been demolished. He also designed many Roman-Catholic churches and nursing homes.


Roof detail from the "Huis met de Kabouters".

Chalet style

Boerma produced a variety of designs in Chalet Style, so called because of the decorations inspired by timber construction. Here too he designed wooden bay windows, combined with gothic and renaissance revival elements. Plenty of imagination came in handy: the three pitched roofs were furnished at their tips with animal heads carved from wood and little angels sit on the corners of the bay windows.


Café de Bisschop on Dam Square designed by Boerma, ca 1875.


There are plenty of stories surrounding the reason for the green hobgoblins. These stories vary from the client’s surname (Van Ballegooyen translates roughly as ‘of ball-throwing’) to the way in which the construction of the houses came about: the collaboration between two contractors who kept ‘passing the ball’ to one another, so to speak.


View of the Amstel River from the "Huis met de Kabouters".


The hobgoblins have always appealed to the children of De Pijp, as it seems to be a mystery as to which hobgoblin has the ball. The ball is supposed to be thrown by the hobgoblins in secret, but it is not clear whether this happens at midnight, on New Year’s Eve or during leap years.