Friday, 17 August 2012

Hotel Roßthaler Hof, and Julius Krümling, Dresden

A day in Dresden that had begun with the colourful ghost sign for the garages of Hotel Burgberg ended with another one, this time on the façade of a derelict building facing the railway tracks near Dresden Mitte station.

According to the list established by the Landesamt für Denkmalpflege Sachsen (Saxony's Office for the Preservation of Momuments and Historic Buildings) the building at Roßthaler Straße 1 dates from around 1870. Back then this residential block was located on the northern bank of the Weißeritz, a short tributary of the Elbe which ran through the Wilsdruffer Vorstadt neighbourhood, to the north west of the inner city.

However at the end of the 19th century, the authorities in Dresden decided to modify the lower course of the Weißeritz as the river was prone to flood. Therefore when the railway tracks between Dresden Hauptbahnhof (Dresden Central station) on the left bank of the Elbe and Dresden-Neustadt station on the opposite bank were relaid, it was diverted further north by means of a canal in order to avoid further floodings and damage to the railway arches. The earth excavated during the works was used to fill in the river bed. The current Marienbrücke of the railway stands roughly at the former confluence of the Weißeritz and the Elbe.

Following these works the street took its current appearance and in 1903 was named Roßthaler, after Roßthal, by then a small village 5 km southwest of Dresden city centre. I don't know when this residential block was transformed into a hotel but if the Hotel Roßhaler Hof was the first one there it can be assumed this was after 1903.

Indeed there is no information on the web about this hotel. There may be something in the book Die Wilsdruffer Vorstadt-Seevorstadt West, part of the excellent series Aus der Geschichte eines Dresdner Stadtteils, but it was unavailable last time I was in Dresden.

Unfortunately the building has been empty for two decades at least (a picture taken in 1992 shows it was already abandoned) and its future is uncertain. Indeed even though the former Roßthaler Hof and the buildings next door are listed, in 2006 surveyors recommended they be demolished on the grounds that they were structurally unsound and the cost of restoring them would be far too high. Nothing was done straight away but in 2010 in spite of the concerns of the Linke (The Left) and the Bündnis 90/Die Grünen (Alliance '90/The Greens) groups on the council about the future of the Roßthaler Straße buildings, the mayor confirmed they would be demolished. This was not the end though as Bündnis 90/Die Grünen challenged the measure and this bought time for a private investor to be found who agreed to finance the restoration of the buildings at Roßthaler Straße 1 and 2 (number 2 is on the left on the pictures above) and Schweriner Straße 63 (on the right. The entrance is just round the corner, hence the different street address).

Julius Krümling
Fluss- Kanal- Schiffahrts- Reederei
[lit. River and Canal Navigation Shipping Company]

Hotel Roßthaler Hof Hotel

Apart from those for the Hotel Roßthaler Hof, ghost signs for the shipping company Julius Krümling can also be seen on the façade. The company was founded in Magdeburg in September 1914, shortly after the beginning of the First World War, by Prussian sea captain Julius Krümling. It became rapidly an important shipping company, with offices in Hamburg, Stettin (present-day Szczecin, in Poland), Danzig (present-day Gdańsk, in Poland), Berlin, Breslau (present-day Wrocław, in Poland), Dresden, Hannover, Duisburg-Ruhrort and Rotterdam. It operated a fleet of steamships (16 at least), motor boats, tugboats, and barges that carried goods not only along the Elbe, the Rhine and the canals of Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium but also towards the harbours of East Prussia and of other countries surrounding the Baltic Sea.
In 1925 the name of the company was changed from Julius Krümling to Reederei A. G. (vormals Julius Krümling). The deep economic crisis that hit Germany in the immediate aftermath of the 1929 Wall Street crash dealt it a fatal blow. It was declared bankrupt in 1930 and its properties were seized.

This ghost sign was certainly painted not long after Julius Krümling was registered in 1914. Did the company have its offices while the hotel was open? Or did it precede or came after the hotel?

Click on the pictures below for an enlarged version.

Ghost signs can also be found above the ground floor windows and entrance. This part was painted on a couple of occasions. Unfortunately I haven't managed to decipher everything.
The first picture below shows the complete façade, reconstituted by stitching seven pictures together. The following ones show parts of it. Click on each to enlarge.

Gaststätte Roßthaler Hof ... ... Hausschlachterei
[Roßthal Court Inn ... ... Butcher's]

Apart from the palimpsest that includes Hausschlachterei (Butcher's) above the door, traces of other painted signs can be seen by the entrance to the building but only the two on the left pillar can still be read. As they overlap, one was painted before the other but it is hard to tell which one came first.

Tel. 2582.

The word Fremdenglocke is mostly found in texts from the 19th and early 20th centuries (and obviously on this ghost sign!) and could be translated either as doorbell or visitors' bell.

Finally two ghost signs can be read between some of the windows. As vegetation grows in front of the second one, two pictures were needed to get it all.



This last ghots sign looks remarkably recent, or at least less old than all the others. It may well date from the GDR period.

Next time I'll be in Dresden I'll try to go and check whether the building that housed the offices of Julius Krümling and the Hotel Roßthaler Hof is still standing and if the restoration work supposed to be carried out by the private investor has been sympathetic to the ghost signs on the façade. If not all that would be left of them would be some pictures.

Location: Roßthaler Straße, Dresden, Sachsen / Pictures taken in October 2011

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