Villa Erica / Central library Hilversum
1844/1889 / I. Gosschalk

‘s-Gravelandseweg 55

Villa Erica at 55’s-Gravelandseweg has housed the central library of Hilversum since 1932, with a short interruption in the Second World War. The first buildings on the plot on ‘s-Gravelandseweg date from 1844 and concerned a U-shaped boys’ boarding school including a house. In 1889, the villa got its current Neo-Renaissance appearance during a renovation by architect Isaac Gosschalk (1838-1907). The villa and the fence placed as a boundary fence were designated a national monument in 2002.

Private occupancy

Twenty years after its construction, the boarding school owner left the building and the villa was used as a country retreat by a securities broker from Amsterdam. This gave the villa the name ‘Villa Erica’. In 1889 the villa changed hands again. The new owner had the villa renovated by Isaac Gosschalk. This renowned architect from Amsterdam is known, among other things, as the designer of the Westergasfabriek in the capital.

Gosschalk significantly enlarged the property by closing the U-shape of the original villa. He designed an entirely new facade that was placed in front of the old one and enlivened it with a bay window. Neo-Renaissance decorations such as bacon layers, pilasters and so-called diamond heads were applied to the facade. The scrollwork on the parapets of the windows on the first floor is also typical of Gosschalk.

Public Reading Room and Library

After having served as Hotel Oranje for several years and once again as a private residence, the board of the Public Reading Room and Library bought the villa in 1932. the soldiers stationed in the area. Immediately after the liberation, the villa was used for some time as a meeting place for Canadian soldiers, the Maple Leaf Club. In January 1946 the library took the building back into use.


As a library, the villa underwent various renovations and extensions. A large extension was built at the rear where the library books were stored, the library. Now we find the cafe and the reading tables there. The new construction at the rear by the Hans Bik architectural firm dates from 1995. The appearance of the villa at the front, however, remained virtually unchanged. The offices of the library and, on the ground floor, the Kunstuitleen are now housed here.

Bomb shelter

An air raid shelter was built between the villa and the adjacent Sociëteit De Unie during the Second World War. The accesses through the cellars of both buildings were later closed, but the air-raid shelter was also accessible via a (now closed) outside entrance. The shelter is hidden from view by low bushes and a few trees.


Isaac Gosschalk (1838-1907)




's-Gravelandseweg 55, Hilversum