In 1920 the former orphanage became a Roman Catholic multi-purpose social centre. Ownership was in the hands of a Limited Company called Veritas, set up to manage such centres.
What once was the boys’ wing became a cinema in 1923. Its architect also designed a new façade with entrance doors on both sides. Behind it there was a café, on the spot where the orphanage’s kitchen and courtyard used to be. Both wooden flights of stairs that used to lead up symmetrically on both sides of the inside porch were demolished. New stairs, built on the inner wall of the East façade, led to the upper floor.
Circa 1930 the buffet company De Residentie purchased the building and changed its name from Veritas to Amicitia. That name is still recognised throughout The Hague. Its 21 rooms could be let for all kinds of purposes.
Onto the North façade of the North West wing a stage and auditorium were built. In 1934 the stage obtained a large vertical extension that made rapid scene changes possible. Amicitia soon took its place as an important venue for the city’s social life, its entertainment and theatre performances.
In the early ‘thirties the garden’s size was greatly reduced by the construction of new houses in the Torenstraat. This also meant the demolition of the Committee’s wing’s East side.
Construction activities continued at a fast pace after the Second World War. After a major refurbishment in 1954-55 Amicitia had two theatres. This increase in capacity led to further changes: more foyers and bars, artistes’ dressing rooms, cloak rooms etcetera, and a new entrance. After all of these adaptations, Amicitia could cater to more visitors than before.
The new entrance was changed more than once as the public’s taste changed. This happened again in 1960, when the café was changed into a furniture showroom. The entrance left of the café, leading to the Kriterion cinema, had been renewed in 1955.
Between 1968 and 1970 Amicitia’s last major modernisations took place. The addition of a balcony increased the main theatre’s capacity. The front building was given back its earlier pride of offering a café space and the front façade appropriately obtained an awning.
In the course of the years rooms have been let for various purposes. For instance, in 1936 there were meetings held by the National Christian Temperance Society and in the ‘eighties boxing matches and body building contests were being held.
Eventually the appeal and class of entertainment that were on offer went into decline, while upkeep and maintenance of the buildings equally did not keep up with the march of time. The Westeinde building’s nadir was reached towards the end of the ‘eighties, when Amicitia was terminated. In the early ‘nineties parts were demolished and other parts were renovated while the municipal authorities, time and again, postponed taking a planning decision about what should be done with the whole previous Amicitia area.
On 13 October 1994 the municipal council decided to purchase the building. Its Spatial and Economic Developments Service was charged with the task to investigate whether the complex could be reconstructed and restored in order for dwellings to be built in it, or should be demolished. Meanwhile, a building history research project took place.
One of the conclusions was that the 15th Century cellar should be listed as a monument and that other parts of the complex should not be demolished because of their importance. Moreover, only the front building turned out to be reasonably intact and useable for converting into flats while, if there would be a replacement construction for the back building, an underground parking garage could be made – a planning element that is essential in this part of the city.
The restoration of the front building, the boys’ wing and the Committee wing strove to maintain as much as possible of the original structure and exterior. Every façade detail (bricks, window frames, decorative cornices etcetera), if at all repairable, was maintained.
Because of the architectural unevenness of the front building’s rear façade it was decided to design a back building – on the opposite side of the courtyard - with a very even façade. Most of its open air areas have been designed as loggias rather than as balconies, thus ensuring privacy and presenting an almost unadorned front. The old cellar, partly underneath this new building, has been restored without any added adornment, in order to maintain its original feeling.
All this makes Amicitia today, in the 21st Century, a special apartment complex, where old and new architecture meet in harmony and in a rich historic atmosphere. A unique piece of The Hague indeed.