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Park Merwestein

The oldest known proof of ownership of Park Merwestein is dated 27 November 1610. It concerns part of the current park. Earlier owners expanded this area considerably by purchasing adjacent parcels. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, this private estate was called Dijken Veldzigt. In 1829, the name was changed to Wei- en Veldzigt and in 1851 it was known as Veld- en Dijkzigt, when Otto Boudewijn t Hooft van Benthuizen, already owner of a part of it, bought the remaining grounds from his sister. t Hooft had a chalet-like villa built on his land, a coach house, a gardener's house and some other buildings. He gave his estate a new name: the Merwestein country estate. The villa was lost during the bombardment of 24 October 1944. The Coach House, later known as the Melkhuis, was demolished by the municipality in 1948 for economic reasons. Only the gardener's house (now the park guard's house), located at the Groenedijk entrance, still exists. At the end of the nineteenth century (1883), a number of citizens of Dordrecht united in the Committee for the Establishment of a Park in Dordrecht. Initially, they attempted to turn the Karremansweide, now known as the Oranjepark, into a walking park, but the Dordrecht city council refused to cooperate in carrying out the plan. Soon afterwards (1884) a unique opportunity arose. The owner of the Merwestein estate is prepared to sell it for 86,000 guilders. The citizens of Dordrecht quickly raised this sum. The committee, which had no intention of exploiting a park itself, then negotiated with the municipality. It was proposed that the municipality maintain the estate and open it to the public as a walking park. However, this required some adjustments and a number of conditions were imposed on the municipality. The municipality accepted the conditions and since 1885 the Merwestein estate has been a public park, named Park Merwestein, all thanks to the generosity of the citizens of Dordrecht. It has been a public park to this day, with the sad interlude of closure during the Second World War due to acts of war and looting. In 1947, the gates were opened to the public again.

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