Treasure of History
Plantation house “Rooi Catootje”, located in one of Curaçao’s busiest residential areas, does not instantly catch one’s eye. Set back from the road, surrounded by a wooded area, it is passed daily by many who do not realize that the house and its collection represent a unique historical monument. Not only for Curaçao, but also for the Caribbean.
Dating from about 1820 the mansion was originally built on a plantation know as “Rust en Vrede” (Rest & Peace). The name “Rooi Catootje” was adopted in the mid-nineteenth century.
The house has been the property of the Maduro family since 1853, when S.E.L. Maduro brought it as a gift to his wife Rebecca Curiel from her parent’s estate. That is how Rooi Catootje became the family’s country residence.
Rooi Catootje is considered an outstanding example of the typical architecture of a Curaçao plantation house. Its rectangular, two-story central buiding is completely surrounded on the lower floor by closed galleries and, on three sides by terraces.
Its location is similar to the placement of other plantation houses in Curaçao. Firsts, it was built on the top of a hill in order to catch the last possible breath of a breeze; seconds it is on view of at least two other “Landhuizen”. Such a view was essential for security, as it permitted the owners to send or receive word of impending threats.
Of particular interest to those involved in shipping, as Mongui was, the semaphore on Fort Nassau could be read from the front porch of “Rooi Catootje”. Thus, one could immediately know about the movements of ships entering and leaving the harbor.
Rooi Catootje’s place in local history was guaranteed in 1954 when all the conferences between the Netherlands and the Dutch Caribbean Colonies were held there. The “Round Table Conferences” lead to the “Statuut” which established a new constitutional relationship involving autonomy for these islands.