KLM’s 103rd Delftware miniature house is on the island of Aruba

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is celebrating the 103rd anniversary of its founding today, an occasion traditionally accompanied by the presentation of a new Delftware miniature house. This year’s miniature is a replica of a house in a very special location: the Ecury family home on Aruba. The island will be marking a centenary of aviation next year and the Ecury House – now part of the National Archaeolo­gical Museum of Aruba – is close to the site where the first aircraft landed. Moreover, the Ecury family played a significant role in the development of aviation on the island. KLM first flew to Aruba almost ninety years ago and made the island its operational hub for scheduled services across the Caribbean. KLM began operating scheduled services between Amsterdam and Aruba in 1974 and now operates daily flights between the two.

KLM President & CEO Marjan Rintel is on Aruba and will present the latest Delftware miniature to Agustin Vrolijk, Acting Governor of Aruba, and the Ecury family, tonight at 20:00 local time.

Agustin Vrolijk, acting Governor of Aruba: I congratulate KLM on its hundred-third anniversary. We are extremely proud of our cultural heritage and are therefore very honored that this iconic mansion, the Ecury complex, has been chosen as KLM's next miniature house. We are deeply honored that Aruba's cultural heritage will now travel to all KLM destinations worldwide.

Marjan Rintel, CEO and President of KLM: “I don't know whether the founders of KLM could have imagined back in 1919 that we would still be celebrating the airline’s anniversary 103 years later. This year we are doing so on lovely Aruba, a KLM destination for almost fifty years, where we are kicking off celebrations today marking a centenary of aviation on the island. KLM has had many ups and downs over the past century, but we’ve always marked our anniversary on 7 October, because we want to keep celebrating that KLM is a wonderful company that connects the Netherlands with the world. We should be proud of that.”

The Ecury House
The house is located in Oranjestad and was built in 1929, close to the site where the first aircraft landed on the island almost 100 years ago. It was the home of the esteemed Ecury family, prominent in society and business. Son Nicasio “Dundun” Ecury built his business empire from here and played an important role in the development of aviation on the island. His son, Boy Ecury, studied in the Netherlands and became a resistance hero during the Second World War. He was betrayed and executed in 1944.

The Ecury House has been part of the National Archaeological Museum of Aruba since 2009 and forms the heart of the museum. It was built in 1929 and features a facade with classical elements, Caribbean gingerbread detailing and local decorative elements. This imposing and harmonious ensemble is a unique creation by the architect Dada Picus.

1934: KLM lands on Aruba for the first time
In December 1934, a triple-engine KLM Fokker F-XVIII, christened “the Snip”, flew from Amsterdam to Curaçao in seven days, stopping in Marseille, Alicante, Casablanca, Porto Praia, Paramaribo and La Guaria. This was KLM's very first transatlantic flight and it was only possible because of the various stopovers, modifications to the aircraft's cabin and the absence of passengers. The purpose of the flight was to station an aircraft in the Antilles. The Snip touched down on Aruba for the first time on 23 December. Scheduled service between Curaçao and Aruba began on 19 January 1935, which was the first flight operated by KLM’s West-Indian Branch (WIB). KLM began operating scheduled direct service between Amsterdam and Aruba on 11 February 1974.

Centenary of aviation on Aruba
Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the first flight’s arrival on Aruba. Since then, the airline industry has connected Aruba – also known as “One Happy Island” – with the rest of the world and fuelled its local economy, which now revolves largely around tourism. Aruba Airport welcomes around 2.5 million passengers annually and has grown significantly over time.

About the KLM Delftware miniature houses
Since the 1950s, KLM has been presenting Delftware miniature houses filled with Bols Dutch genever to World Business Class passengers on intercontinental flights. The miniatures are replicas of historic buildings in the Netherlands and abroad and are sought-after collectors' items. Since 1994, KLM has added a new miniature to its collection every year on the anniversary of its founding, 7 October.

This is the second time in KLM's history that a Delftware miniature is based on a building outside the Netherlands. On KLM's 85th anniversary, the airline presented a replica of the distinctive Penha Building in Curaçao.

Evelyn Wever-Croes, prime minister of Aruba: “At Schelpstraat No. 42, there is a house with the year “Año 1929” on the façade. The rear of this house borders on the Noordstraat (now known as John G. Emanstraat). When this house was build in the 1929, its the owners, the Ecury family, could not have guessed that one of the 13 children born there would end up becoming a war hero, far from home. Even before it was restored to its former glory, the Ecury House was always iconic. One always admired it in passing. Everyone knew the house. We, the younger generation, feel a bond with the history of this house, because we know the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the original occupants. The Ecury House forms a single entity with the adjacent Cas di Mamachi, which dates from 1911. However, the Ecury House, with its impressive façade and colonnade, is visually dominant. It casts an indelible image on one’s retina.”

Ronella Croes, CEO, Aruba Tourism Authority: “We are immensely proud that KLM has based its latest miniature house on a building on Aruba, more so because the Ecury family home was chosen. Doing so acknowledges the productive relationship we have had with KLM for many decades, as well as our shared history. Thanks in part to KLM, international tourism is thriving here, allowing us to build invaluable relationships. Choosing the Ecury family home as the model for its Delftware miniature house also spotlights our cultural heritage and brings it to the attention of a wider public. We hope this will encourage current and potential travellers to come to Aruba and explore our unique Caribbean culture.”

Joost Meijs, CEO, Queen Beatrix International Airport Aruba: “I couldn’t imagine a better way to kick off next year’s anniversary, celebrating 100 years of aviation on Aruba, than with this gift from KLM; adding an Aruban house to their collection of Delftware miniatures. This miniature marks KLM's 103rd anniversary and is a great prelude to the centenary celebrations in 2023, which will involve the entire community. We are very proud that KLM has chosen the Ecury House, one of Aruba's most cherished heritage sites. It will add an Aruban flavour to KLM's collection of miniature houses, safeguard and promote the importance of our cultural heritage, and help us achieve our cultural aim of sustainable development on the island.”

Anne Witsenburg, Director, Monuments Fund of Aruba: “It has long been the wish of Monuments Fund Aruba that KLM would model one of its miniatures on a building in Aruba. We feel deeply honoured that it has chosen such a fine historic landmark to showcase in this special way. The house has features of many different styles of architecture, including that of the Netherlands. KLM’s 103rd miniature house highlights the ties within the Kingdom and our shared past. We have studied the history of aviation on Aruba and recognise that it has brought us freedom and economic progress. We are grateful that KLM provides us with a daily physical connection with the Netherlands and that it has made our wish come true.”