Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs, Ambassador Michele T. Bond and Consul General Randy Berry officially opened the recently-renovated Consular waiting room at the American Consulate General in Amsterdam on Monday, March 23 at 16:00 hrs.
With this new renovation we have restored the historically-significant character of the room, while providing 21st century comfort and convenience.
The United States Consulate General serves over 30 thousand customers each year, including U.S. citizens, Dutch nationals, and people of other nationalities who require visas to visit the United States.
The U.S. Consulate General at Museumplein 19 in Amsterdam, has been serving the public since 1945. The building was completed in 1914 as the home of the van Heukelom family. The Consulate General recently completed the renovation of the consular waiting rooms (van Heukelom’s former billiard room and kitchen) restoring and cleaning all of the original woodwork, repairing and painting the walls, and installing new carpeting, energy efficient lighting, and new heating and cooling systems. The goal was to create a comfortable and attractive space for visitors while honoring the historic nature of the building, which is a Dutch Rijksmonument.
Using a recently-commissioned Historic Structures Report to guide their efforts, workers selected historically-appropriate finishes and decorations, and respected the original style of the building whenever possible.
The wooden ceiling of the visa waiting room is a gem; however, over the years, it became cluttered with modern light fixtures, cables and other distracting elements. The first part of the restoration project involved the removal of all cables and lighting so that the ceiling could be seen as it was meant to be seen. Damage to the ceiling was repaired, and the wood panels thoroughly cleaned.
Less visible are the sliding wooden panels that serve as interior shutters for the waiting room windows. The panels are decorated in the same style as the other wooden elements of the room so they blend in flawlessly.
As anyone who has done a home remodeling project knows, construction work often brings surprises. In this case, we had a very welcome surprise: a Delft blue tile tableau of a field being plowed. This charming image was previously hidden behind a wall panel in the American Citizen Services waiting room. We’ve left it uncovered and now you can see it above our newly-installed water fountain; we hope to continue restoration work on the tiles themselves in the near future.
Want to know more about the History of the Building and the Historic structures report? Read on…