Original article (in Dutch).
Source: DUIC and written by author Arjan de Boer.

Villa De Oorsprong: a rich source of stories

Recently there have been flexible workplaces in the monumental villa at the Oorsprongpark, previously a real estate agency. The further back in time, the more colourful the inhabitants: Reformed elderly, noble widows and (future) mayors. The villa took on its current form around 1880, but there are still parts from 1823. The basement is said to be the source of the Vecht.

Villa De Oorsprong was built by Unico Cazius (1766-1832, shown here with his family. He descended from a patrician family and became wealthy because King William I granted him an exclusive patent on “Amsterdam cement”, mandatory for public works such as locks and fortresses. Cazius was also steward general of the knightly Balije of Utrecht.

Cazius had bought the old inn Het Boompje at the end of Biltstraat and Maliebaan. He replaced it in 1823 with an empire-style mansion with a high center section and two side wings. In the current hall of Villa De Oorsprong there are still plaster decorations that probably date from the early period, such as capitals and consoles. Maybe they were originally gilded.


Around the house, Cazius had a park built by landscape architect Hendrik van Lunteren, with an Eastern arbor and a goldfish pond. Some trees from that time are still there. Van Lunteren also designed the park of the adjacent country estate Het Hoogeland. Both outdoor areas connected to the Nieuwe Baan, a park-like extension of the Maliebaan. In 1874, peace was disrupted: the Oosterspoorbaan cut through the park and gardens. There was a level crossing and a stop at Biltstraat.

Vecht Well

The name De Oorsprong refers to the origin of the river Vecht, which was situated here in the 19th century. In the basement of Villa De Oorsprong there is another well that is said to be the “Vecht Well”! That is of course not correct, but the thought is not as crazy as it seems now.

The Oude Vecht ended at the villa: the water that runs through the current Griftpark and along the Alexander Numankade, and is now called Biltsche Grift. However, the actual Biltsche Grift is a dug sailing route to De Bilt. Both watercourses converge at Villa De Oorsprong. Originally, the Oude Vecht will have continued and connected to the Kromme Rijn via the Minstroom. However, the old river courses in the city of Utrecht are a source of much debate.


In 1879, Lord Binnert de Beaufort bought Villa De Oorsprong. He gave Cazius’s mansion even more allure by building a floor on top of both wings, making them the same height as the center section. A triangular extension was added at the front. The whole was decorated in eclectic style and got a high mansard roof with dormers. When De Beaufort became mayor of Baarn and Eemnes in 1885, the family moved to Villa Peking. Later the nobleman became mayor of The Hague.

In 1886, De Oorsprong and surrounding land came into the possession of the Boshouwers family, heirs of a contracting company that specialized in bridges and fortresses. Their “Maatschappij De Oorsprongbouw” built at contiguous mansions at the Oorsprongpark, designed in neo-renaissance style by Derk Semmelink. Franciscus Boshouwers also had the villa expanded by a southern part with a veranda and a tower with a second staircase. This gave the house its characteristic asymmetrical shape.

Interior photos

We know what the interior of De Oorsprong looked like in 1889 thanks to a special photo album, kept in the Rijksmuseum. The photos were taken by squire Henry Pauw van Wieldrecht (1863-1912) from Zeist, one of the country’s first amateur photographers. He mainly recorded his family life, hobbies and trips abroad, but also photographed the interiors of acquaintances.

In De Oorsprong, Henry immortalized the drawing room, the dining room and a children’s room. What is especially striking is how full everything was: people suffered from ‘horror vacui’, the fear of the empty, and they fought it with dark furniture, heavy carpets, curtains and many paintings. Fortunately, the children’s room was much brighter, with rattan furniture, but also with numerous frames on the chimney and on the wall.

Work girls

At the turn of the century, De Oorsprong was inhabited by the dowager Van Weede van Dijkveld-Schuyt and then Mrs. Muller-Doude van Troostwijk. Only these genteel ladies did not live in the big villa; they were surrounded by personnel. For example, in a 1928 ad, Mrs. Muller asked a “Kitchen Work Girl” and a “Second Girl”, “preferably P.G. [Protestant Disorder], able to cook and work well, wages according to ability “.

In photos from the early 20th century, Bilstraat still looks quiet near De Oorsprong, although the electric tram to De Bilt and Zeist stands out. But in 1927 there was an “unsatisfactory traffic situation”: pedestrians, cyclists, cars and trams often had to wait a long time at the level crossing, while there was little space. The city council considered a tunnel under the railway, which would be at the expense of the Hooglandse Park. Moreover, Villa De Oorsprong had to be partly demolished! Fortunately, a bridge and road widening was chosen.

Retirement home

The last noble resident of De Oorsprong was J.H.E. Baron Van Nagell, until he became Mayor of Doorn in 1936. Then the villa got a striking new destination: as a retirement home. The Foundation for the Care of Reformed Elderly managed to accommodate 56 beds in the “rest home”. Some of the “elderly helpers” also lived internally. In each bedroom there were six to eight beds with a chair in front.

The residents had no items of their own, other than their clothes and a single painting above their bed. One of the rooms was furnished as an infirmary, while the en-suite salon downstairs served as a recreation room. It was tight, but in the meantime the “old days” survived. In good weather they sat on the veranda or shuffled through the garden.

In 1963 it was decided to thoroughly convert De Oorsprong into a nursing ward. However, after “extensive study” it was realized that the building was unsuitable. There would be a new, modern nursing and care home in Overvecht, but that would take years. The Origin has meanwhile been modernized somewhat. For example, a stairlift was installed and curtains were placed between the beds for some privacy.

Lawyers and estate agents

In 1970 the elderly moved – by bus – to the new nursing home Warande on the Neckardreef; quite a transition. The Origin was purchased by the University of Utrecht, which housed the Institute for Constitutional and Administrative Law, previously located at Maliesingel. The spaces were used as study and study rooms and a library.

The legal scholars left in the early 1990s. The building was renovated and converted into an office. Elongated windows were added to the very wide roof molding, making the attic with its high roof more usable. This unusual intervention was possible because the villa was only protected as a national monument from 2001 onwards. The new user was Zadelhoff Makelaars, who stayed there for almost 25 years.

Flex workspaces

After the departure of DTZ Zadelhof, the villa was taken into use in the summer of 2016 by Regus, a large international provider of flexible workplaces. The interior has been renewed for this purpose in a style that is midway between business and hip, but retains original elements such as the hall and the staircase with antique fountain.

In addition to permanent and flexible office spaces, Regus Oorsprongpark offers meeting rooms and a “business lounge” for professionals and freelancers. In this way, contemporary participants are again added to the historic parade of construction entrepreneurs, barons, the elderly, administrative law professors and business estate agents.