In our notes on current cultural events in Germany and Turkey, we repeatedly referred to various events at the Hessenpark Open-Air Museum.
So it was high time to visit the Hessenpark again. Since, despite the onset of autumn weather, no rain was announced for the Sunday of our choice and an additional event in the form of the "Hoffreite" house opening in Hessenpark was announced, we drove early in the morning on the A3 past Würzburg in the direction of Frankfurt. At the Gravenbruch motorway junction we left the A 3 and used the A 661 city bypass to Bad Homburg. Here we went on the 456 to Wehrheim and shortly afterwards we had reached Neu-Anspach and thus the Hessenpark.
Hessenpark open-air museum in Neu-Anspach
Museum villages in themselves are an interesting opportunity to deal with the buildings of our ancestors, their possible uses and the crafts operated in them. This applies in particular if the immediate surroundings are historically documented and presented in a comprehensible manner. Literally: History you can touch! From our own announcements on the portal, we know only too well about the versatility and commitment of the Hessenpark team, sometimes it's a cheese festival, sometimes the spreading of old seeds, sometimes a crime story that is performed by actors with the involvement of the audience. In short, a very varied and always attractive supporting program around the "old" houses.
We had arranged to meet Ms. Pia Preuss on site, who is responsible for press and public relations. Thanks to her information, we knew about the opening of the recently completed building "Hofreite from Ehringshausen-Breitenbach". Already on the first few meters through the Hessenpark, the really wonderful half-timbered buildings were a real eye-catcher with their colourful splendour. The "Markplatz" even before the Toren des Hessenparks seemed extremely authentic with its market stalls and the colorful hustle and bustle.The telephone contact also worked out in good time, so that after a first, short flying visit to the first houses, we had to go to the opening ceremony of the Hofreite house.
The Hofreite house from Ehringshausen-Breitenbach
On the way we already learned some details about the planning and design concept of the Hessenpark with regard to the planned extensions and buildings that are still to be built in the coming years. There were stacks of timber framing everywhere, indicating that a multitude of buildings still awaited restoration. A little later we had already arrived at the location of the building to be opened today, where a larger group of visitors had already gathered sitting on party benches. A little later it became clear that there were also a number of residents from the villages of Breitenbach and Ehringshäuser, where the now rebuilt house "Hofreite" originally came from. And it wasn't just the villagers. In addition to the local council, musicians and "actors" came to support the happy event with contributions. Even hearty catering after the official opening ceremony was taken care of. In short, everything had been thought of.
Many details about the building and the former residents were addressed and as a special highlight, two former residents of the house were even present at the ceremony. Since they also said a few words about the reopening, it was a touching ceremony that ended with much applause. The factual presentation of the historical course up to the rebuilding of the house, presented by Dr. Lindloff, whom we are thankful to be able to reproduce here as a transcript of the speech:
I'll gladly admit that I'm somewhat relieved that the construction project "Horse Ride from Ehringshausen-Breitenbach" is now largely complete and that we can celebrate today. After all, it was one of the first projects that was emphatically offered to me when I took up my post at the open-air museum in 2005:
"So Dr. Lindloff, we would like to open the house in late autumn 2005 if possible! Make an effort to get this sorted out."
Well, since then another eight years have passed until today. I can assure you that I am completely innocent. But what are eight years for a modest house that has 317 years under its belt. Of course, 23 years from the dismantling in Breitenbach to the end of the reconstruction is far, far too long. The outbuilding does a better job there. It "only" took 9 years, not counting the waiting time between the declaration of acceptance and the actual transport. After all, the long times were worth it! In front of us are two buildings with an infinitely varied architectural and social history.
The rural building industry of the 17th to 19th centuries spreads out before us like a thick historical picture book! Wealth and abundance of historical information, people, destinies and stories that life writes pour out like a cornucopia. Especially for the 1940s and 1950s, which we chose as the period for the interior design. And, there is still a lot to discover.
So yesterday, exactly 145 years ago, a new window was installed on the ground floor:
"was made September 14, 1868 by master carpenter Johann Georg Zimmermann in Kölschhausen", is written in pencil on the underside of the window covering that we recently discovered. And the first horizontally divided front door with a hinged upper part from 1731/32 has also been preserved.
I am particularly interested in the point in time at which cinder blocks were produced in the cement works belonging to Buderus, because this might help narrow down the period for the conversion or new construction of the stable building.
Just wanted! I still know almost nothing about the Möller family, who moved into the apartment on the top floor in 1955.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to briefly share with you the building and social history of the farmstead.
The long version would last several hours.
But I don't want to impose this on you now:
The three-zone barn with a central barn and two bans (storage rooms for harvested goods) was built in 1696 as a half-timbered building.
The builders were Johannchen Meister and his wife Anna Barbara, as is noted in the inscription above the lintel.
The barn was part of a relatively large court riding.
However, the house and other buildings that once belonged to it could no longer be located.
In 1731/32 the first structural changes took place, in which the left lane was expanded for residential purposes, probably as a result of a division of an inheritance.
A solid wall is now being erected between the living quarters and the threshing floor, and windows, interior doors and a front door are being installed. It is the predecessor of the current front door, which was built in the first half of the 19th century.
During this time, further conversions were made: new windows, a new staircase and the replacement of Ern and an open hearth with a hallway with a separate kitchen.
Around 1843 a basement was added to the right-hand bansen, perhaps for storing potatoes, peas or even for keeping pigs.
Under the master blacksmith Heinrich Jacob Staaden, who married the house owner Wilhelmine Herbel in 1883, there were further extensive changes.
After 1900 there were further repair and building measures, of which the roof conversion for residential purposes between 1948 and 1950 is certainly the most important.
The construction and usage history of the annexe is no less exciting.
Even the complete layman notices that the gable end and eaves end of the knee wall does not fit on the ground floor. It overhangs by about half a meter at the front, but recedes by the thickness of the wall on the eaves side.
I'm still not quite sure whether it is a massive stable building built in the late 19th century, to which a half-timbered knee-post made of second-hand timber from the 1st half of the 18th century has been added, or whether it is a a half-timbered stable building erected in the first half of the 18th century, which was massively underpinned at the end of the 19th century – bricked with cinder blocks and fitted with Prussian cap ceilings.
If you don't understand that, ladies and gentlemen, it's a matter of which came first, the knee wall or the ground floor.
However, the installation of a smithy and the conversion of the cowshed into a garage for the village teacher Herchen in 1925 are documented, as is the horse stable in which the horse of the house owner Anna Schiller stood.
Furniture and household items from the open-air museum
From around 1910, the house was occupied by many tenants. In the beginning it was families like the Berghäusers (until about 1916), the Kuhlmann family until 1929, the Groß family until 1931 and the Dittmann family until shortly after the Second World War, but then several families lived in the house at the same time, mostly in one-room apartments, only from then on 1953 with running water in the hallway on the ground floor, but no drain, of course no toilet, the outhouses were in the outbuilding.
After the Second World War, housing was scarce and affordable housing was always. Displaced people and refugees moved in and out again when they could afford a better apartment or when the family grew and the apartment just became too small.
A maid and a servant who worked for the Schillers also lived in the house for a time. The living space ended around 1976.
We furnished the house in the time average 1955/1957, when four tenants with 11 people shared a total floor space of around 80 square meters:
the couple Schäfer (the Geigenhenner or Riwwelkuchen as well as the Moritzer Lene) with their son Werner
the Möller couple with their daughter Monika, who was born in November 1955
Anni Dittmann, who was employed by Frau Schiller
The couple Eicke with their children Erika and Günter
The basis for the facility was the results of restoration studies before dismantling, numerous interviews with contemporary witnesses and former residents as well as archive studies, which were conducted by the qualified engineer architect Sabine Gärtner in 2001 and further surveys this year.
It was furnished with furniture and household effects from the open-air museum. A few pieces of household goods are originals from the house and were donated to us. Thanks a lot for this! Despite all efforts, it was not easy to get used to the living conditions, to the privacy that some people would find uncomfortable even today.
As a museum, we are attempting not to block off the rooms on two floors with a barrier, but to enable visitors to go directly into the rooms. This gives you a better idea of how modest and hard life was long after the end of World War II.
However, the interior is as good as new, the walls freshly painted, even wallpapered.
The cottage looks clean and neat, not as dilapidated as it was, almost like a cottage in the country, my colleague recently commented.
The possibilities of museum presentation also have their limits.
Appropriately, we have set up a small exhibition in the garage of the adjoining building entitled "Patchwork - Do-it-yourself between need and frugality", which takes up everyday life in the post-war period with its material deprivation.
I don't want to end my remarks without thanking everyone who actively supported the construction and furnishing of the two buildings of the Staaden/Schiller farm: Hessian construction management, external construction management, specialist planners, external trade companies pp., but above all ours craftsmen who have done an excellent job and the exhibition designer and graphic artist involved in the small exhibition. The event organization and the visitor service helped and are helping in the usual reliable way.
I am pleased that so many people from Breitenbach and Ehrings are present, and also Mrs. Erika Eicke and her brother Günter, two people who lived with their parents on the top floor of this house for two years as a three-year-old child and 12-year-old respectively.
In this way, the history of the building comes alive and is comprehensible for everyone. What a difference to just looking at it or walking through Hessenpark. One would literally wish to keep this history for all buildings in the Hessenpark. The latest technology should actually make this possible.
After the house opening, we used the afternoon for a short tour of the park and were then able to enjoy the market stalls with great wine and cheese offers. A wonderful day with many interesting new impressions and experiences. Thanks for that.
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