Stevoort, situated in the neighbourhood of the capital of the province of Limburg, Hasselt, and which merged with it in 1977, was mentioned for the first time in a 1099 document as “Steinvert”.
Till the second half of the 13th century, Stevoort belonged to the domain of the counts known as the “Graven van Loon”, afterwards it became divided in two domains. Governmentally, the village consisted of 3 settlements, with each their own mayor, who was elected every year by the inhabitants: the “Dorpswagen” the Opperwagen and the “Straatwagen”.
When we look at the shape of the main square, known as the “Sint-Maartenplein”, we can still recognize the former triangular village square, which indicates Frankish colonisation. The church was not situated here because there was not enough space for a church building, a cemetery and a presbytery. The first centre originated south of the river Herk, because the settlement in the north was bounded by the valley of the Herk and the castle, of which the vast domains were not parcelled out nor accessible until the second half of the previous century due to a powerful lord.
Since 1862 a pump stood here, in replacement of a watering place, which had been filled in for health reasons. Also the pillory had its place here. And in between 2 very old lime trees, a chapel from 1910 can be seen.
The former water castle of the Lords of Stevoort, now called “Mariaburcht”, would have existed already in the 11th century in a primitive shape: a fortress with a lift bridge. The oldest known resident is Arnold van Steynvoorde, who was in 1364 a liege lord of the Count of Loon. In the 16th century, the castle came in the possession of the family Salm- De Rougraeve : they built the south eastern corner tower of the castle. When the family de Libotton became the new owners in 1701, they rebuilt and restored the whole castle: the wall clamps in the north eastern tower are silent witnesses of those days.
The castle as it looks now dates from 1769: a date which can be found on the bridge in front of the entrance gate. In 1826 the family Palmers de Terlaemen bought the property: this family dominated the village for decades. In 1922 the castle was for sale. The provincial government thought this was the ideal location to start up a domestic science school.
In 1925 the Sisters of Berlaar became the new owners of the “agricultural school”, which is a modern secondary school now.