History

La Société de Maestricht (Groote Sociëteit) was founded in 1760 by Hobbe Esaias, the baron of Aylva and is regarded as one of the first men’s societies in the Netherlands. It was a private association for men. The members gathered in the society building to meet each other in a private environment.

The members were almost all leaders from the Maastricht civil service, financial or military world. Strict entry requirements and high contributions ensured that unwanted persons were kept out.

In 1868 the clubhouse was renovated. The second floor was demolished internally, so that a spacious and high ballroom was created on the ground floor. Since that time, the windows on the second floor have been shuttered.

Under the building is a large cellar consisting of several rooms with barrel vaults. The coal sandstone used here indicates an age from the Middle Ages.

In the long existence of the society, the association was honored a number of times by important visitors such as King Willem II and Willem III (1841), Queen Regent Emma with her daughter Princess Wilhelmina (1903) and Prince Hendrik (1910).

Membership is now open to men and women and is done through the system of co-option, in which at least two members propose a new candidate, which is balloted by the board. Several times a year the baron closes her doors for private meetings of the society.