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City Villa in a Student City

Related Images

  • Fig. 1. Page from the population registry. [Stadsarchief van Leiden 1816-1929](, Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken.
  • Fig. 2. The front of the ‘Naomi’ building, Morsweg 44, seen from the student flat. Photo: Alicia Schrikker.

The people who currently live in city villa Naomi (since 2014) say that they are not that bothered by the students living next to them. This might be because of the fairy-like garden hidden behind the garage doors or because of the old pine trees that cast their shadows over the villa, separating the villa from the busy Morsweg. It seems like quite a contrast: a beautifully hidden building next to a big student complex. However, the history of the building that now stands so closely to the student flat, has always been intertwined with the world of students and the university. One of the last residents, for instance, Mayo Greenberg, was a professor at the university. But even before that, even at the very beginning the city villa and student city came together.

The city villa Naomi was built in 1903 in the magical Jugendstil style. The population registry tells us that in December of the same year, the first family moved into the building: the Beekman family, with five children (fig. 1). Father Beekman came from Roermond and was an upholsterer – maybe that is why he felt drawn to the Jugendstil style of the house. It seems as though the family was not doing well financially at that time: in 1912, the court of The Hague put Beekman into administration, presumably because of bankruptcy.

The family could certainly use some extra income, and that is clear from the fact that other people were registered at the address as well. Between 1904 and 1917, around 20 different students in total lived at this address. Most of them only lived there for a short time, often not longer than half a year. The students, all men, came from various locations in the Netherlands and the Dutch Indies. Not only this house, but most houses on the Galgewater accommodated students in the 20th century. Many of these students had roots in the colonies and followed educational programs at Leiden University, such as the colonial Business Administration Indology, or Law or Medicine.

If you want to know more about the students from the Dutch Indies who studied here, then read the longread below!

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