The Genteel Beauty of Lievendaal

There’s a charming villa on the eastern edge of town near Lepelenburg Park. It’s called Lievendaal and was built in 1862. I’ve been meaning to write about it for ages, or at least, I’ve been meaning to do the research on the building, since I’ve been taking photos of it for years. This first photo was taken in 2011, but it was a set of photos I took a couple of weeks ago that finally reminded me to look up the details on the building.

Lievendaal Magnolia
One of the reasons I’ve always noticed the villa is because of the gorgeous magnolia tree out front, which was in beautiful bloom at the beginning of May. Along with the circular porch and some of the other trees in and around the property, it often reminds me of the southern part of the US I know so well.

The house is located on a slight hill that was part of the remnants of the old city walls. It’s located between Lepelenburg Park and Zocher Park. The Lepelenburg Park stands where a stronghold of the same name once stood. There were various of these strongholds around the city.

Someone named G. Reede (I need to search to find out more about this person) is the one who commissioned the building in 1862. It was built in the Eclectic style, and though I can’t find a specific architect, it does seem that Jan David Zocher, who designed the extensive Zocher Park, played some role in the villa’s design.

Although I don’t know anything about Reede, I do know a bit about a later resident of Lievendaal. From 1958-1962, Irene van Lippe-Biesterfeld lived there while she was attending Utrecht University. Certainly much fancier than any of the places I lived during my university days! Of course, housing like that is probably fairly standard when your mother is the queen. Irene was the second daughter of Queen Juliana and the younger sister of Beatrix, who recently abdicated the throne for her son. It’s worth reading the Wiki page about her for some of the story on how she came to give up all rights to succession.

I don’t know who owns the villa now, but it remains a beautiful part of the landscape for which it was designed. There were some renovations and additions in the early 1900s, but they seem to have been tastefully done. Best of all, as I mentioned, is the wonderful magnolia tree. During its recent bloom, with the beautiful blue sky behind it, it reminded me of one of my favourite Van Gogh paintings, the almond blossom series.

Lievendaal Magnolia

A Tree Disappears in Utrecht

End of an Era
Despite being buried under a pile of animals this morning, I couldn’t help but hear lots of sawing and grinding and other loud noises early in the morning. I thought it was the neighbours, who are having some work done to the house, but it doesn’t usually start that early. When I went out to take Pippo out, I discovered what all the noise was. It seems that Zocher Park is losing another tree.

The park lost one of its old trees a few months ago, and a few others have been cut down over the past year or two. It’s always sad to see them go, especially when they’re really big ones, as many of these have been. The tree today was a particularly big one and has left a big open whole. I shouldn’t be able to see that much of Biltstraat!

(I took this photo about four hours after the photo above, when the tree had been cut down completely.)
All Gone

The tree was diseased, so it had to go, but I’ll always remember the glorious autumn show it always put on, bright with colour, even on the greyest of days.

Autumnal Colors