Each week in this column, we focus on an IJmuiden topic based on a photo and in response to current events, a special event, an event or just one of the beautiful scenes that IJmuiden offers. In this episode pay attention to the Apekrom church.
By Erik Baalbergen
The former Apekrom Church is located on Willebrordstraat. In the accompanying picture from a century ago, it is clearly still a church, but today it is a private house and can hardly be recognized as a church anymore. We take a dive into the history of this building, where a beautiful piece of IJmuider church and entrepreneurial history has taken place in several companies. It starts as a church.
In 1888, a number of Welsh Reformers separated from the Dutch Reformed Church in Velsen, due to dissatisfaction with the rogue course their church had. They have to hold their own meetings on Heide, in a wooden shed near Kalverstraat, rented by farmer Gerrits. This resulted in the reformed Velsen church. In the first years, the number of Reformed, especially from the growing IJmuiden, increased drastically. The shed quickly becomes too small. It was decided to build a stone church about halfway between Heide and IJmuiden. This will be near Hoogeberg and the former brick factory on the road between Velsen and IJmuiden, the later IJmuiderstraatweg. This church was consecrated in 1893.
Because the number of Reformed IJmuiden is still growing rapidly, the Reformed Church in IJmuiden was founded in 1903. The Haarlem-Beverwijk railway line forms the boundary between the working area of the Reformed Church in Velsen and IJmuidens. Velseroord – the new name of the villages De Heide and Hoogeberg – therefore falls under the Reformed church in IJmuiden.
Because the church building on IJmuiderstraatweg has again become too small, the reformed churches in IJmuiden began to use a new and much larger church on Queen Wilhelminakade in 1904. The building on IJmuiderstraatweg is sold and furnished as a Tivoli party room. The Reformed of Velseroord find the distance to the church in IJmuiden too great and want to establish their own church. The Reformed Church in IJmuiden does not allow this.
Nevertheless, Velseroorder church member G. Apekrom bought a piece of land on Willebrordstraat and in 1909 had a church building 18 times 7 meters built. Despite the opposition of the reformed IJmuiden, meetings are ultimately held in this ‘Apekrom church’. In 1917, the Reformed Church in Velseroord was officially established. The number of members is growing steadily. Although the seating is extended and a built-in gallery, churchgoers even have to sit on the pulpit stairs on Sundays. The monkey church is literally bulging. Therefore, in 1929, the church community inaugurated a new church building on Velserduinweg. The church on Willebrordstraat will be empty.
Apekrom then offers ‘the church building with sacristy and rectory, on beautiful stand IJmuiden Oost’ and ‘with gallery’ for rent and sale. Various associations, such as the Restored Apostolic Missionary Church, the Baptist Church, the Evangelical Association “Be a Blessing” and the Lutheran Society are housed here.
Apekrom will remain the owner for a long time to come. In 1939, he was granted permission to expand the meeting room. During the summer months of 1940, restoration and renovation work took place. In the first years of the war, church meetings and other activities took place in the Vereeniging Gebouw Willebrord.
In 1944 the broker Corn. Janus & Søn the former church building as ‘Building Willebrord, with separate space, suitable for many purposes’ for rent. The building survives World War II. After the war, the Central Purchasing Association ‘Kennemerland’, part of the cooperative for the food trade Enkabé (Nederlandse Kruideniersbond), used the building as an office and warehouse until the autumn of 1953.
In the years that followed, the food company W. Zwanenburg rented a Zn building. Zwanenburg has various departments in and around Velsen, including in IJmuiden on the corner of Lange Nieuwstraat and Velserduinweg. In 1958 the building on Willebrordstraat changes hands, but Zwanenburgs Self-Service Companies, later Zwanenburg NV, will remain there until the late sixties. In 1968, the Zwanenburg branch on Lange Nieuwstraat ‘next to HEMA’ became the first branch of Zwanenburgs Voordeel Markt, better known as the Vomar supermarket. The office and warehouse are still located in the building on Willebrordstraat. Later, Vomar opens its central warehouse on Loggerstraat.
In 1970, the building on Willebrordstraat got a new user. The plumbing and heating installation company Gebr. Hermans, later Hermans Zegwaart Installatietechniek, established his workshop with office there. If he goes after a few decades, the building will be thoroughly renovated into housing in the late 1990s.
During that renovation, I do my research for the book ‘Van Geitenschuur tot Ichthuskerk’ about the history of the Reformed church in IJmuiden, and I got in touch with the new owner. He shows me around the construction site where I can take one last look at the remains of the pulpit. Although the building still stands, there is now little left of the Apekrom church.
The Apekrom church, on the south side of Willebrordstraat, built in 1909 for assemblies of the Reformed from Velseroord. Year unknown, but probably in the late twenties; in the picture, the plaque with the text ‘May your eyes be open night and day over this house and over this place’ is still just above the entrance. This stone was removed around 1929 and transferred to the church on Velserduinweg. Photo: Noord-Hollands Archief / Picture collection of Velsen municipality, inv.no. 21075.