How it all started
Jonnie en Thérèse Boer’s success story in Zwolle started in 1993 when they took over Restaurant De Librije. Jonnie had already been working for some years with Ed Meijers, owner at the time of De Librije. He had applied for a job there in 1986 after he had read in an article that Meijers liked to cook with mushrooms that he had picked himself. That really caught Jonnie’s attention. In the meantime Jonnie got to know Thérèse. At that time she was attending a hotel and catering school and specialized in wines. Before long Thérèse became a respected viticulturist and hostess. Soon after Jonnie en Thérèse had taken over De Librije from Meijers, they received their first Michelin star and from that moment on the restaurant was full every evening. In 1999, the second star followed and that made Jonnie the youngest two-star chef in the Netherlands. In 2004 De Librije was the second restaurant in the Netherlands to receive a third star, after Parkheuvel in Rotterdam.
Restaurant De Librije
The restaurant is located in the former library of the centuries-old Dominican monastery that dates back to the 15th century. The assumption is that De Librije was formerly the library of the Broerenkerk (‘Brothers Church’) complex. Even though, unfortunately, this has all since been lost, the building bears great historical significance. Used at various times for storage and as a stable, it has survived wars and pillaging, and in the mid-18th century, was rebuilt and transformed into a synagogue. In 1901, the government commissioned a thorough restoration of the structure. In 1998, the building was completely rebuilt, and since that time, has only been used as a restaurant, fully customised to suit the needs and tastes of Jonnie and Thérèse Boer.
The cellar is currently used as a kitchen. In this cosy kitchen, the heart of De Librije, small groups (6 to 16 guests) can enjoy lunch or dinner: the ultimate way to take a peek in the kitchen! The actual restaurant has been moved to the ground floor and seats 40. Located on the first floor, the Salon is perfect for those who prefer to dine in style and in a more private atmosphere with their companions. The room is designed in the same style as the restaurant and seats between 10 and 36 guests. The patio at the front of the restaurant affords guests the opportunity to enjoy De Librije’s unique surroundings.
After the restoration and redecoration under the supervision of Jonnie and Thérèse Boer, the doors of Librije’s Hotel opened in 2008. The hotel is located in what was once the women’s prison in Zwolle, ‘het Spinhuis’.
From 1739 to 2004, this historic building served nearly uninterrupted as a prison. Consisting of a ground floor, one upper floor and an attic, the square building was designed and built around an inner courtyard. The prison cells were located on the ground floor, facing the inner courtyard, making it fairly difficult for the prisoners to break out and escape. The windows on the outer walls, as well as those lining the inner courtyard, were equipped with very strong bars.
There were also cells designated for male prisoners on the ground floor, four on the south wing and three on the west wing. The prison also had a trustees’ room, a kitchen, a pantry and two dark lock-up cells which may still be viewed by guests. There were two types of cells in the women’s quarters on the upper floor as women who had been condemned to the scaffolds had to be kept separate from the other women. A corridor running nearly the entire length of the outside wall on the ground floor and on the first storey was reserved for the prison guards.
The Provincial Government aimed to spend as little money as possible on the prison. As a result, the prisoners had to work to cover these expenses and, in January 1742, several spinning wheels were delivered to the prison. Primarly due tou7 the growth in the number of prisoners and the changing views on punishment, major modifications had to be made to the building on numerous occasions. A large fire on 9 October 1863 destroyed the entire attic floor and part of the stairwell. The damaged areas were restored by building a completely new roof structure. The prison was also declared a penal institution by royal decree on 11 June 1886.
In 1962, five new cells were built on the ground floor of the south wing and a prison cell was also built in the attic. A kitchen and workshop were later also built inside the circular wall. In 1972, within the scope of the restructuring of the prison system, the prison, or House of Detention as it was sometimes known, was closed and vacated. However, due to a cell shortage, it was reopened ten years later. In spite of the number of renovations, the exterior of the former prison is still very much the same as when it was first completed. After the fire, only the roof and the gutter frame had to be replaced. For the addition of the warden’s residence, as well as for the air ducts, kitchen and work areas behind the circular wall, the façade had to be modified.
The prison remains a symbol of the methods used to punish criminals in previous times and illustrates the changes that the penal system has undergone since the 18th century.