The Calffhouse

The Calff-house was originally a complex of main building, annex, garden-house and tea-house. The tea-house had to make way for the Westzijde, which still exists to this day with the Calff-house as one of its few remaining monuments. Building the Calff-house was temporarily completed in 1704.

The builder was known as Nicolas Calff, descendant of a wealthy and wellknown trading family in Zaandam. The reputation of this family was so solid, it was said a reliable creditor was “as safe as Calff”. Family business included e.g. whaling, train-oil and wood. Nicolas father Cornelis Michielsson Calff was a good friend of the later Czar Peter the Great, ruler of Russia (1672-1752).

Czar Peter even delegated his ambassador to visit the wharfs and shipyards in the area. According to legend the Czar himself later actually did some work at a warf. This is resulted in well-known statues, but is alas fake-news. During his own visits to Zaandam 1717 and 1718 Czar Peter and his wife Catharina stayed several times as friends and guests in the Calff-house of Nicolas. The tale tricklles down from owner of the Calff-house to owner, that the book-plated marble in the corridor was given by Czar Peter as a sign of gratitude for the shown hospitality.

More famous has become the house in Zaandam in which Czar Peter actually lived, known nowadays as Czar Peter’s house. The visits of Czar Peter attracted enormous attention, making it impossible to move about anonymous. A well-documented incident was caused by a boy who pelted a stone at Czar Peter’s head.

Nicolas was not only well-known as business-man, but also as art-collector and regular guest at the courts in Paris. At the latter he presented himself as Comte De Veau and was often seen in the company of Czar Peter’s wife Catharina. As the former he founded the art-court Pollanen, which was one of the first buildings of Halfweg (near Amsterdam and Haarlem).
Nicolas Calff died May 4th 1734.