The Builder of Bandung

My great-great-grandfather was known as an ‘Empire Builder’ and he did great things for Bandung, Indonesia. With this blogpost I will tell you the most important things that I know about my great-great-granddad.


Family history, everyone has one, obviously. But not every family has such a rich history, with someone that did great things for a country.

wh-hooglandWillem Hermanus Hoogland, ‘Builder of Bandung’

Born - November - 09 - 1886

Died – Juli – 09 – 1967

My great-great-grandfather was known as an ‘Empire Builder’ and he did great things for Bandung, Indonesia. With this blogpost I will tell you the most important things that I know about my great-great-granddad.

On August 22nd 1908, when Indonesia was still a Dutch colony, he traveled to Batavia (nowadays Jakarta) by boat. But he did not go alone. On August 4th 1908, he got married to ‘Betsy Ottolander’. She was born in Pantjoer, Java, 1889. She was a native Indonesian, adopted by the Dutch coffee-plantation owner, ‘T. Ottolander’. At the age of 21 and 19, they both didn’t have a job, got married and took the boat to Batavia. For him this was a great adventure to the unknown, and for her it was a return home. Little did they know, that by taking this boat, their life’s would change forever.

Wedding picture: Willem Hermanus Hoogland and Betsy Ottolander-Hoogland. August 4, 1908.

The next part is from what I have heard by story telling, mainly by one of my uncles and my grandma. They say that when he got there he started off by going door to door, repairing/selling umbrella’s. Basically almost every Dutch whitey in Indonesia used an umbrella to protect themselves from the sun. This wasn’t his main job however. In the newspaper article, below this post, they say he used to work in the ‘culture system’. Now I’m not sure if they mean that he worked the land, and helped the farmers with harvesting the export crops the Dutch forced them to grow (sugar, coffee and indigo). Or did he work for the Dutch government? Going to the farms, collecting fees from farmers when harvests failed? The first option is most obvious in my eyes, the Ottolander family used to own a coffee-plantation, and he just got married to Betsy.

After about 2 years of working in the culture system, he started working in insurance. There’s a few newspaper articles in which becomes clear that he worked for several insurance companies, then he either got fired or he quit himself.

In 1915 everything changed. He founded the DENIS-Bank in Bandung, and he became it’s first director. Just for your info: this was the first ever bank in (Dutch) Indonesia! This bank grew pretty big, with multiple buildings all over Indonesia. The bank still exists to this day, the building looks the same (some say it’s still the most modern building in Bandung), but they changed the name after Indonesia got separated from the Dutch. Nowadays it goes by the name ‘Bank BJB’.

DENIS, short for: De Eerste Nederlandsch-Indische Spaarkas. 

Translates to: The First Dutch-Indonesian Bank.


It didn’t stop there though. In 1926, he started a project to build a road that leads to the top of the volcano ‘Tangkuban Perahu’. He personally helped building the road! They started this project because it was such a struggle to reach the top of the volcano, and a lot of people died while trying to reach the top. The volcano is located near Bandung, so building a road to the top would increase the cities tourism. When they finished building, on September 8th 1928, they went for a test ride on the new 4 kilometer road and named it ‘Jalan Hoogland’ (Hooglandroad, the picture below is on top of the volcano after the test ride). Nowadays this road is known as ‘Jalan Tangkuban Perahu’. He also had another road built, this road leads to ‘Papandayan’, another volcano.


If you’re Dutch (or can read Dutch), you can take a look at this page for a bit more information about the Hooglandroad.

Then in 1933, two already existing zoos were combined. My great-great-granddad financed this new zoo, making the combination of the two old zoos possible. The new zoo was located in ‘Jubileum Park‘, this was a botanical garden created in 1923 for the 25th birthday of ‘Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands’. Back in the day, this zoo was super popular throughout all of Asia. Nowadays ‘Bandung Zoo’ is not popular at all, it’s a privately owned zoo and there’s a lot of animal cruelty going on. It’s super sad.


The picture above used to be his house in Bandung! Nowadays this house is being used for unmarried woman, men are not allowed to go in!

Eventually he lived in Hilversum until he passed away at the age of 80. My dad told me he met him when he was 7, he just can’t remember it that good. All he remembers is that he was good at magic tricks haha.


3 comments on “The Builder of Bandung”

  1. Nice story my parents Douqué lived in Bandung from 1948 / 1958 as my father was one Directeur (de TIEDENMAN & van KERCHEM )They had a super view on the Tangkuban Perahu and when I was 13jrs I lived there also..( now I am 80 years old born in 1938 ) I liked your story 2 thoughts on * The Builder of Bandung and Merci

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.