Landhuis Dramaga, The house of landlord van Motman

Hendra M. Astari in Balebat no. Sept 2009 (Sundanese journal)

The sun barely started to shed its rays. Two “Satpam” (guards) are sitting on a long bench in the guards cabin next to the entrance to a mansion. The guards hut looks very cool in the shade of the big asem (tamarind) tree hovering above at the front.

The courtyard of the house is spacious, enclosed by iron fences. A car park lays in front of the house, where it is asphalted. Most of the site is soil covered by green grass and various flower trees including two asem Jawa trees.

Outside the enclosure on the mainstreet is a sign saying: “Wisma Tamu IPB Landhuis” (IPB / Bogor Agricultural Institute “Landhuis” guesthouse). In the past, this mansion now used as guesthouse by IPB was the residence of a landlord in Dramaga, van Motman.

This landhuis at  jalan Tanjung no.4 Kampus IPB Dramaga  is in good state. Although already several times restored, the building still reflects its condition in the early 20th century. So is its surroundings, peaceful and fresh as before (?).

It was Gerrit Willem Casimir van Motman (1773-1821), a landlord of Dramaga who built this landhuis. GWC who was born in Genneperhuis came to Nederlands Indie in 1811. Meneer Motman became a landlord in Dramaga and Jasinga.

GW did not occupy this house for long, as he died in 1821. The land in Jasinga was inherited to his first son, while the land in Dramaga was managed by his second son, Jacob Gerrit Theodorus van Motman (1816-1890). Commodities farmed by his successors included rubber, tea and sereh wangi.

Thereafter Pieter Reinier van Motman (1838-1911) became the third landlord, continued by Alphonse Constant Henri van Motman (1883-1935) as the fourth. The fifth landlord, also the last was Pieter Reinier van Motman until 1958. This final land owner also had the same name with his grandfather , the third landlord.

In 1958, when all Dutch reidents working in Indonesia were sent home with their families, also the Motman family had to go. The Indonesian people were indeed irritated by the Dutch who persistently kept West Irian as their colony.

The tremendously wealthy family Motman in Dramaga finally had to return to Nederland, leaving all their assets behind. About 250 hectares of rubber plantations and all their assets including the landhuis or landlord residence were confiscated by the government of Republic of Indonesia, further handing it over to the Agricultural Faculty of Universitas Indonesia (now IPB) till now.

Several times Bung Karno, the first president of RI visited the Motman estate in Dramaga. And not forgetting to relax in the landhuis while enjoying the two asem Jawa trees and the wide green grass lawn.

What is unique in this compound is the large bell attached to a column. On the column, right above the bell is a writing “14 November  1856”, apparently the time that the bell was installed. The bell called “slavenbel” was used in colonial times to  gather plantation workers.

Actually the last of the Motman dynasty living in the landhuis was Pauline Elise Laurience Marie van Motman. She was the youngest (?) child of the fourth Dramaga landlord, married to A. B. Pauwee, the last director of the Dramaga rubber plantation. It was Pauwee’s family who had to leave the Dramaga house in 1958 to return to  Windmill Country.

After hande over to IPB, the landhuis was used for a lot of activities. It has functioned as dormitory for female IPB students  in the 1960s, and in about 1980 became the office of Dean of Agriculture Technology. Early 1990 the landhuis was again tidied up as the office for the New Dramaga IPB Campus Project Management Team. Then in 1996 the landhuis was again renovated to become the official residence of the Rector of IPB. Presently the landhuis is used as guesthouse and club of IPB lecturers.

As a guesthoue, the landhuis is furnished with several facilities like: 7 bedrooms each with bathrooms, an assembly room that can contain 200 persons, two conference rooms, a large lawn for garden parties, a praying room, etc.  To hold receptions (?), one only needs to hire the place.  (YM / HMA)