History: De Drie Colven

familie kolff

The Residence of Wolter Kolff at Nijmegen

De Drie Colven, Nijmegen

De Drie Colven, Nijmegen

In 1641 Wolter Kolff (Gen. VII) and his family still lived at Korte Nieuwstraat at Nijmegen. This house belonged to the estate of the former Broederenklooster which was taken care of by the bailiff of the spiritual goods of the ’tweede rentambt’. It seems that Wolter Kolff ended this rent after his mother died in December 1649 to move into the house ‘De Drie Colven’ at the Steenstraat.

This house is often confused with the house across the street, known as the ‘Besiendershuis’, which owes its name to the ‘besiender’ who would have lived here. The besiender was some sort of superintendant of the river Waal, who had to collect the tolls from passing ships. In reality it appears that a besiender never lived in this double residence. The panorama of the river Waal from this house only became a fact after two buildings at the Waal quayside were destroyed, end 1944 or beginning 1945.



De Drie Colven, Madurodam

Two articles in De Gelderlander about Kolff and this house:
1. An article about this house and the Kolff Family was published in De Gelderlander on September 22, 2010; read this 2010 article.
2. Our Family Day 2018 was held at Nijmegen and at this house. De Gelderlander also published an article with a great picture of all Kolff’s in front of the house; go to the article on the Family Day 2018 at the house De Drie Colven.

Very much to our surprise, not to mention delight, a replica of the house De Drie Colven can now be seen in the Dutch miniature town of Madurodam. This happened during a visit of over 50 family members to this miniature town in The Hague. More information on this can be found at the Welcome Page. You can also open a pop-up here to see images of the house and some related pictures.

Wereld vol elegante verwonderingen (World full of elegant surpises)

(Text: the article by Francine Wildenborg in De Gelderlander of September 22, 2010; transl. by Marius Kolff)

From a dark room I can see the glittering of the Waal river. Nijmegen is alseep. The idea that no ona can see what you can see: that is what gives the Besiendershuis (see note) to her resident. After a quiet night in this monument of the middle ages, I rise early.

Drie Colven Nijmegen

While on Monday I could still see the bridge over the river Waal in detail, now the river is veiled in mist and I see no futher than the quay. The stepped gable of my temporary residence also has a layer of mist. A sweet little ghost house from outside. Inside it is a world in itself. Every passing hour I discover something new, a door handle in the shape of a leaf, a French lily in a window still. The artists that will stay here from October will continiously be surprised by this building. Only after having used the stair case twenty times or more from the ground floor to the void, I discover a beautiful coat of arms in the door connecting the two floors.

Nijmegen resident Piet-Hein Kolff pointed this out to me today. He is a descendant of a certain Wouter Kolff, a former resident of the Besiendershuis (see note), long ago also named Op d’n Colven (On the Colves). Piet-Hein: “Wouter Kolff lived here around 1600. He was a skipper and arrived at Nijmegen from Geertruidenberg. He settled himself in the Beziendershuis and lived here, for as far as I can find, for 88 years.”

Francine Wildenborg at the window with the coat of arms. Photo’s Do Visser/De Gelderlander.

Last year only, when an art gallery was housed here temporarily, Kolff visited the building for the first time. “The coat of arms, with the three colves, the wooden hammers, is also despicted on a seal ring which I have. Very special.” The colourful coat of arms of the family contrasts shaprly with the mainly wooden interior downstairs in this monument, which makes it extra special.

Once seating again at my desk on the first floor I regained my view on the River Waal. On the quay people are enjoying the sun. It is not just outside that everything looks different, also inside it is much brighter. Coloured little windows now attrack attention, scores in the wood show themselves. From the small inner court the dark window shutters glimmer from the sunlight. I start to get used to my new refuge, even though the sail and the ‘modern’ doors are jam the total picture.

How special it may feel to be in here, all alone, what I discover the outside world should also be able to see. For this reason it is good that the Besiendershuis is open to the public on a regular basis for the coming months. For all that take some time to spend here will be rewarded.

Francine Wildenborg (De Gelderlander, 22 september 2010)

Note by the archivist of the Kolff Family Association (27/9/2010): The House with the Three Colves and the Besiendershuis are two different houses. The latter stands on the other side of the street. This has some logic to it, because from the old house of Wouter Kolff one could not overlook the river Waal. From the back side of the house on the Northern side of street one could. The window has been placed several years ago following an initiative of the Kolff Family Association.

Permission for publication of this article has been asked for at De Gelderlander, but we never got a reply. In case De Gelderlanderso wishes we will remove the article from our website. The link to De Gelderlander didn’t work any longer, so that has been disconnected (Dec. 2013).