By Marijke Holtrop
Johannes was born in Brielle in 1754, in a house on Kapoenstraat, currently Voorstraat 66. His father was David van Westenhout, a respected Brielle carpenter who was appointed Brielle’s ‘Stadsfabriek’ in 1724. The ‘Stadsfabriek’ was the official who acted on behalf of the town council when building work had to be contracted.
Johannes van Westenhout was viewed by those around him as one of the most important architects of his period. He mainly worked in the Louis XVIth style. Later he designed more in the Neo-Classical style.

His career can be summarised as follows:
1776 Clerk of Works for the rebuilding work on the Binnenhof in The Hague. Involved in the construction of a new wing for the Stadholder. This wing housed the House of Representatives until the end of the 20th century.
1777 Starts military training. 1987 Appointed Extraordinary Engineer in the army and assigned to the Directorate of National Fortifications, an agency that dealt with the construction and maintenance of the defences in the Netherlands.
1793 Director-General of National Fortifications. Lines of defence were constructed under his supervision.
1795 Resigns after the French invasion.
1802 Accepts the position of deputy commissioner with the ‘Department of War for the Defensive Works Service’.
1806 Appointed by Louis Napoleon as Inspector-General of State Buildings (comparable to the present day Government Architect).
1807 Member of the Committee of Three who assessed designs for the new building work on Rapenburg in Leiden after a ship exploded. The committee produced its own design for a new Academy building and a memorial. Neither were constructed.
1808 Admitted to the Koninklijk Instituut van Wetenschappen, Letteren en Schoone Kunsten (Royal Institute of Sciences, Literature and Fine Arts).
1810 Retired following the deposing of King Louis Napoleon by the Emperor Napoleon. Also stopped working for King William I.
1824 Died in Amsterdam.

Johannes executed the following designs in his birthplace of Brielle:
Through his father he was given the assignment in 1775 to draw up a plan of St Catharine’s Church (Catharijnekerk) and to mark all the graves on it for the purpose of the register of graves. In 1777 he was asked by churchwarden Johan Melville (whose portrait can be seen in the next room) amongst others to create a new pulpit with railings for St Catharine’s Church (Catharijnekerk). In 1789 Johannes very probably designed the Hoofdwacht military building on De Markt in Brielle. In 1791 he definitely produced the design for the new facade of Brielle town hall.

A portrait of Johannes van Westenhout is on permanent display in the portrait gallery of Brielle Historical Museum.