Anyone entering the Boekmanstichting at Herengracht 415 is immediately reminded of a quiet distinction which begins in the redgreywhite tiled corridor. Students are now surfing on laptops up in the terracotta and olive green painted Lecture Hall of the former Catholic Society Religion and Science, where in 1906 the ‘Ladies Library’ flourished, strictly separated from the 'Men’s Library', situated on the second floor, where a ‘in graceful uniform attired’ usher rendered hand and span services.
The original house on this land dates back to 1666 (it has a gable) and belonged for two hundred years to the family Goethals. In 1890 the building was owned by the St. Willebrordusstichting, founded by the Jesuits of the church located in the Singel Krijtberg. These religious "businessmen" bought many houses in the city, among them Herengracht 415. The garden of this house was situated at the back of their small church, so they moved the library and reading room of the Society Religion and Science within their building to that garden. A year later the Catholic architect W.G. Welsing began extensive alterations. He was also the architect of the former store, De Gruyter, known for its recognizable deco facades and luxurious interiors.
Welsing replaced the gable by a gable well in a at that time highly esteemed Dutch Renaissance style. The letters FS in the stained-glass windows refer to the destination of the property: Fides et Scientia. And in the lecture hall refer a sculptured angel (religion) and owl (science) to the spiritual 'pillars' on which the building rests.
By late 1930, the Society Religion and Science left the building on the Herengracht to made way for the Roman Catholic Public Reading Room and Library. In 1993 the Boekmanstichting, housing in the building for sixteen years, restored the painted ceiling and wall decorations in the Lecture Hall were restored. Further repairs followed in 2007.
Source: Karin Jongbloed: Herengracht 415: 100 years Faith, Science and Culture, Boekmanstichting, Amsterdam, 1991.