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Mother Goose Hotel is located in the former Ubica buildings. These are two adjoining buildings, numbers 24 and 26, at Ganzenmarkt in the city centre of Utrecht. The Ubica buildings, as they are called by most media, owe their name to the mattress factory that was located here between 1931 and 1990.
In the 14th century, the building in the middle of the three houses between Schoutenstraat and Telingstraat, number 24, was called ‘Huize Compostel’, after its owner Niclase van Compostelle. We know that the building was already mentioned in 1319, and that it was probably built as early as 1302. When the Compostel building was built, there was still an old branch of a river running through Ganzenmarkt. But because it was no longer navigable, it was used for dumping waste.
In the Middle Ages, from about 1100 onwards, prominent residents of the city were given permission by the bishop of Utrecht, to construct houses of stone, something quite special in those days. They often had a huge castle built with which they would show off and a smaller house next to it, because this was easier to heat during the winter. You could easily regard these houses as the Dutch version of the Italian ‘pallazi’. Huize Compostel was one such building. Compostel moved with the times and the original appearance changed significantly. New façades were constructed and other renovations took place. In 1917, the original roof was removed during a refurbishment. Parts of the beams that had been inscribed with verses and pictures by the original residents, were moved to the Centraal Museum. Mother Goose had photos of these beams taken, which you can now see hanging in the hotel. Unfortunately, the old house was severely damaged because of several factory fires.
Because of the flat roof and even walls, it was relatively easy to determine the age of the building by the stones of the 19th century façade. A fire in the summer of 1989 changed all that. When the building was cleaned out, the plaster was also removed from the walls. This is when the true character of the house stood out and it appeared that the house was one from a group of so-called city castles. The building still has building components of the original city castle: the fireplace on the first floor, a wooden spiral staircase, an oak tree hatch and several other building components.
From the 16th until the 20th century, the Ubica buildings were used as a family residence. The buildings were also occupied by a chemist, a bookstore, a printer’s, a plumbing company, a bakery, a furniture maker and a mattress factory. In the late 1980s, mattress factory Ubica left the building and squatters took over the vacant premises.
The squatters patched the buildings up with the limited means they had and made them suitable for habitation by 10 to 15 squatters. Several activities were organised over the years, including concerts, a vegan restaurant, an internet workplace, an info shop, art exhibitions, and a place where people could hire carrier bicycles.
In 2002, the squatters painted the façade black and white, with a yellow spine-like mural in the middle. Many people were appalled and the council said that the mural, opposite city hall, was contradictory with any ‘reasonable conditions of prosperity’. In May 2013, after a ruling by the court of Arnhem that the Ubica building had to be evacuated, the squatters started to revolt and several of them were arrested. After the evacuation, the buildings were declared uninhabitable and the lower floors were boarded up.
The current proprietors purchased the building in 2012, with the intention of turning it into a hotel and grand café. Two years later, Mother Goose Hotel is a fact.