The interview with Marco Peters about how passion and community involvement can improve the image of your town and bring history and old spirit back.
Why did you decide to buy this specific house? What attracted you?
It is a unique house well-known to an ‘’echte Heerlenaar’’, a local from Heerlen.It has also the oldest- as we know it for now- mural in Heerlen which also served as an advertisement. When my wife and me saw it for the first time we found it such a pity that the house was in such a bad condition. We thought: We have to give this building a 2nd chance, bring back the glory from 1912.
What was the condition of it?
The condition of the building was very bad. When we started stripping the building we noticed the different layers in the decoration of the people who lived there, old stairs were partly destroyed and used for lowering the ceilings. Above the ceilings there was a layer of about 20cm of mine dust, really black. All electricity, water drains and sewerage have been removed as well the ceilings, wall decorations, old wooden floors and an old kitchen. 160 m3 of rubbish has been removed from the building so far.
Tell us more about the history of the building?
The start of the building was on the 12th of April 1912. Originally on the left/lower side there was a cafe with a family house above and on the right/higher side there was a barbershop with a family house above.
At some point after the World War II the building was transformed in order to rent rooms to people from abroad working in the mine in Heerlen.
With closing the mine the audience in the building slowly changed similar in the way Heerlen changed during these years.
Due to increasing safety regulations from the government and the kind of tenants, the owner decided to close down the building around 2010.
The house was finally sold to us on the 24th of June 2016 to make out of it a fully refurbished family house. With our actions we also try to achieve improving the image on the Sittarderweg.The neighbors are very happy with the course of action and the taken steps by us so far.
What is your ambition and what can your house mean to Heerlen?
This building is definitely the connection between the past, the presence and the future.
It is a living history of Heerlen, it witnessed all the good and bad moments of the history of Heerlen. Flourishing mine times and the fall after the mines were closed.The original layout of the building inside got destroyed and the house stayed empty for many years.
Since about 1920the house also accommodated the oldest mural of Heerlen and was the only building of this period which was at the end not demolished. When you look around you can see all the buildings from the 90’s. We are the only one with a building that still has a story to tell. A fantastic story we think, which we cannot forget. At the same time we want to contribute to the future, to the sustainable future. Therefore we are reusing old materials and giving to some of them a new practical dimension.
For example the old wooden logs which were not good enough anymore to implement in the building will be used to create a dining table.
So, our ambition is to make sure that the history will not be forgotten. An empty building has a spirit and we will bring it back and make sure that it will stay with us in a sustainable way for our Heerlen.
And you are looking for old photos of the building?
Yes, there are quite a few photos taken in this part of Heerlen, even from the other side of the street where there was the barrack of the Koninlijke Marechaussee. (Royal Marshals)
From our building we only succeeded in finding the original drawing from 1912 and an aerial view picture where you can see the roof of the high building, but no further pictures so far.
In case you think you have some old pictures of this building please share them with us. We can make copies of them.Or maybe you have an old story of the building or from somebody who lived there. Please share it with us so we can keep the story alive.
You are organizing some events to show the audience your project. Both events are open events to all interested. So we can see that you are really society oriented.
Yes, we want to show the audience the project, to get them involved, to create community history belonging feeling and together restore the oldest mural.We are organizing two events.
23 July; we are organizing an open day where we will give guided tours in small groups through the building, there will be a garage sale, events for the children, music, food and drinks where the revenue will help us to restore Heerlen’s oldest mural.
Revealing the mural on the 20th of August. No details or guarantees so far.
The idea is to give it a spot in Cultura Nova and to have it revealed by the alderman of the city of Heerlen Mr. Barry Braeken.
© Copyright www.communications-unlimited.nl, 2017. All rights reserved.
Photos above © Copyright Marco Peters, 2017. All rights reserved.
Photos below © Copyright www.communications-unlimited.nl, 2017. All rights reserved.