the college of luxembourg was founded in 1619 as a residence for less affluent students in leuven. the monument, which was granted its protected status in 1994, thanks its existence to the luxembourg native jean de myle, or johannes milius, who came to leuven for a doctorate in law after his studies in treves & luxemburg.
jean de myle was later employed at the court of king philips 2 (1527-1598) in brussels. he later followed the king upon his return to madrid, where he lived & worked until his death in 1596. he left a fortune large enough to fund the construction of a residence for luxembourgian students who were in need of financial support.
the college provided accommodation, nourishment & medical assistance for fifteen students, half of which studied theology, while the other half studied law.
the original college was probably built on the remains of an already existing building. further, very little is known of this construction from 1619. in 1739, jean andré anneessens (1687-1754), who was the king’s court architect at that time, was hired to draw a completely new plan for the college, which found itself in an abysmal state at the time. the constructions started in 1755, following the plans of a certain n. jooris, who had probably taken over anneessens’ original plans & adapted them. the doors & windows were provided with sculpturally decorated framework in blue stone from hainaut, the façade showed four capitals in white sandstone, a coat of arms covered the central entrance gate, the stairs were decorated with beautiful balustrades & the interiors were ornated with moulding in stucco. It is also during this period that the two galleries on either side of the central court were built, connecting the gatehouse with the central building. in the second court, behind the central building, a chapel could be found until 1911, when it was demolished.
the architectural style of the college of luxembourg is to be named as louis xv or rococo. its typology is based on that of a typical french hôtel, a sort of city palace for nobility, wherein a gatehouse & a main building are typically separated from each other with galleries on both sides of a central court. the round plan of the niche in the gatehouse wherein the entrance portal of the college is situated is an example that frequently can be found in parisian hôtels. the college also shows the influence of local traditions, such as the characteristically brabantine use of blue stone, white sandstone & red brick.
in 1797, under french occupation, the college adopted the function of a military hospital. its inhabitants moved to a residence on the pork market, which is now the square of father damian. starting in 1807, it was a laundry house, a slaughterhouse & a shoe manufacture. between 1810 & 1850, the property served as a state prison, a police office & a fire station. a few years later the royal middle school for boys & its boarding school moved in, followed by a girls’ school in 1866. until 1986 the college was used by the royal athenaeum or secondary school. after this, the steinerschool & the kunstbank of leuven found accommodation in this building during more than a decade.
at the beginning of the twentieth century the college of luxembourg didn’t have a determined function. it was inhabited by squatters who called themselves ‘t Gesoncken Schip, meaning The Sunken Ship. In 2013 the exterior of the building was renovated in the context of a small urban renewal project, & in 2014 the decision was made to reuse the building as a courthouse.