Nowadays, when you stroll from town along the Pietermaaiweg, it is remarkable that the latter at first rather skirt the shoreline. Halfway down the Pietermaaiweg, the parcels at the seaside deepen. In the 18th century, a ribbon development came about, by which detached houses and rows of two or three connected houses alternated with each other.
The parcels mostly continued to the sea or the Waaigat. Between the houses, many alleys, sometimes a little broader but more often relatively narrow as well, led to the water. Along the side of the road in the 18th and 19th centuries, houses were built based on a traditional Curaçao floor plan: a front gallery with a core, an attic behind it, and sometimes a back gallery. In addition, people had a kitchen, and several houses had one or more lean-tos (connected houses). Of the 18th-century houses, only one or two examples were preserved, as Pietermaaiweg 77. Other 18th-century homes were remodeled or extended in the 19th century. Pietermaaiweg 39 is evidence of that. The house, remodeled in the 19th century, still has an 18th-century gable on the west. Along the sides of the alleys, smaller dwellings and rows of several lean-tos (simple dwellings) came about.
In the second half of the 19th century, neoclassic style characteristics appeared in the architecture of Curaçao. The most important features of this style are the block-shaped building masses, triangular frontons over the doors and windows, molded strings (moldings over the doors and windows) and gutter boards, pilaster strips (vertical bands) at the corners, and balconies on columns. In addition, it is striking that in the course of the 19th century, larger houses were built in Pietermaai. This trend continued in the 20th century. It also occurred that a low dwelling was raised with a story. Examples of that are found at Pietermaaiweg 71-73-75 and Nieuwestraat 42-44.
The houses in Pietermaai were built of rubble. This material was used well into the 20th century. Upon the introduction of concrete in the first decades of the 20th century, aggregates were needed. In Curaçao, in the beginning, finger coral was used to that end. It was utilized, for instance, in Pietermaaiweg 33 through 37 to raise Pietermaaiweg 71-73-75 with a story.
Many houses had a cistern in earlier times. If one did not have a cistern, water was bought from a water seller or someone in the neighborhood who had a large cistern at his disposal. It is also known as two houses where a bread-baking oven used to be part of the premises. (Of course, this does not exclude the possibility that in those days, there were not more bread-baking ovens in Pietermaai)
If one lives so close to the shore as did the inhabitants of Pietermaai Smal, the hurricane season does pose a few risks. People experienced that on the 23rd and 24th of September of 1877. This hurricane, Tecla, that scoured the island hit Pietermaai very hard. Several houses were severely damaged or swept away, including the first houses on the south side of the road starting at the Theaterstraat going east, which more than likely disappeared then.
Written by Fosca Bosch-Kruimel on behalf of Fundashon Pro Monumento