“Harmonie…Harmonie…”, the bus attendant offers the road route.
Present day, people perhaps don’t care about the historical background of the name of “Harmonie” building.Below, my friend Alexandra will tell you when she visited Harmonie before the building was pulled down.
I would to express my appreciation to Alexandra who visited this building 23 years ago and spent more time to remember and remind it on the subject of writing her experience to all audience of “MY ODYSSEY”…
Part of this letter was edited and adjusted in terms of architectural description without changing the meaning.
Regarding your request for some illustration about Societeit de Harmonie, it’s not much to tell, it was a long… long time ago in June/July 1985, when I was still a senior high school student.
I saw her last standing in sturdy façade and still beautiful from the outside…however she was already on the verge of death.
I walked in Jl.Majapahit, it was western side of this building. I viewed the building in ivory white, garnished by the pillars, and a magnify title of “HARMONIE” that bracketed by triangle [like in neo-palladian style]. There were windows galleries. The windows were designed in classical-arc style and wooden bar ventilation [krepyak]. Sadly, most of these wooden windows have gone, even the western entrance wooden door in to the gallery was moved out.
The building has a unique trapezoid roof blended by tropical roof style as indische woonhuizen. The roof edge was surrounded by border.
If we entered from principal entrance, opposite the canal, there were three steps of marble staircases toward the three Doric columns. The color of staircase is grey-greenish Whereas the western side, there is an open gallery without staircase. The distance between the base line and the floor was about 60 cm.
I entered from Jl. Majapahit, because the part of rear building has been pulled down. Many ruins cruelly scattered inside the building and the garden.
Entirely the building, I found unfilled rooms, empty. The chandeliers have gone. Pieces of wall have been pulled down. Apparently, I did not found any Corinthian columns.Only pilaster with capital Corinthian were available.
The marble tiles were still shinning in grandeur, and let me imagined the ambience when a chamber orchestra played Strauss’ waltz suite such as Radetzky March and Emperor Waltz, accompanied the dancer…The ballroom was so cozy and cool inside.
I felt so sorry to myself. If I visited “HARMONIE” a year before, I would see her fully grandeur mansion. And that day I visited to express my condolence to her, touch her and say goodbye. I felt empty inside me. That’s the last time I ever saw her last standing.
Alexandra Nirma Mahartiani
Written by Alexandra Nirma Mahartiani
Edited by Mahandis Yoanata Th.
A FAR BEFORE
In the end of 18th century many drink shops or bar built in the edge of Ciliwung River [the great river of Batavia]. The Batavian became more cruelly and uncivilized, they usually drunk and brawl.
In 1776 Reinier de Klerk observed that the government should build the more civilized club in society. The first society club in Batavia, Societeit de Harmonie established in Buiten Niewpoort Straat, Jl.Pintu Besar Selatan now. It was outside the city wall in the north.
NEW CITY TO THE SOUTH BY DEANDELS
When the city of Batavia was getting unhealthy, Governor General Herman Willem Daendels moved the city to Weltevreden in 1808-11. He had planned to build government building and a new clubhouse in the corner of Rijswijkstraat and Rijswijk [now Jl.Majapahit and Jl.Veteran].
The new clubhouse needed an amount of money to financing this building. For that reason Daendels inquired the Board of Treasury to support it. Not only that, he also inquired all civil servants, military or civil must be a member of this new clubhouse.
The development of this clubhouse was retarding after Daendels left Batavia because financial factor and military invasion of British Army into Batavia for eliminating the influence of France.
THE ESTABLISHMENT OF NEW SOCIETEIT DE HARMONIE
The establishment of Societeit de Harmonie was continued when British occupied the Netherlands Indies by Lieutenant General Raffles in 1812. By late 1814, construction had been completed. Raffles opened this grandeur club officially in 18th of January 1815. That date was chosen to coincide with the official birthday of Queen Charlotte, wife of the British King George III.
There was interesting legend, Raffles threw the front door keys into the canal in front of the clubhouse, and declared that the doors would never close.
Inside the grandeur building, there were chandelier, big mirror, Corinthian columns, bronze statues, and marble tile. Parties, dancing, orchestra were celebrated in this club. So people called it Jenewerpaleis due to many gin or other wine stored in this building.
The 250th anniversary of Batavia was celebrated in Societeit de Harmonie in 29th of May 1869.
SOCIETEIT DE HARMONIE IN HER LAST STANDING
From the 1970’s to early 1980’s, Harmonie was purposed by office of Indonesian National Importer Group.
In early 1980’s before pulled down, there were some discourse about this building: a plan would be an exclusive restaurant and night club, but the government refused this planning. The government said that private enterprises can not run this building to be business purposes.
The Societeit de Harmonie building was demolished in March 1985 to facilitate the widening of Jl.Majapahit. Since that year, we just imagined the grandeur building ever had in Jakarta only from old photographs or movie.