November 17, 2008

Fantastic find - antiquity in the garden

Yesterday, hubby planted about 100 bulbs - hoping that some of them will bloom in spring ;-). He ameliorated the soil with the pickax and suddenly he had the impression he was hitting a stone. But it wasn't a stone, it was this clay bottle:

After cleaning it, we discovered a stamp saying "Herzogthum Nassau" (Duchy of Nassau), a lioncel and the word "Selters" (seltzer):

Let's sum up the information: We found a clay bottle once filled with mineral water, deriving from the former Duchy of Nassau. This Duchy was part of the German Confederation and existed barely 60 years (1806-1866). Folks, that means, our bottle is at least 150 years old, maybe even 200!! So very exciting!

But back to the information: The Duchy was situated in what is nowadays a part of the federal state of Hesse.
The mineral water originates from the well in Niederselters/Taunus Mountains:
* The following information is translated from Wikipedia*
The well was discovered in 1536 and soon the water was said to have curative effects. In the 18th century, the water was verifiably exported to Scandinavia, Russia, North America and Africa.
Between 1806 and 1866, the export of seltzer became the Duke of Nassau's most important source of income.

By the way: Niederselters is about 360 km from our little town, quite an amazing distance for a bottle of mineral water at that time! It definitely means that the owner of our house (in the first half of the 19th century) was fairly wealthy!

November 15, 2008

New windows, part II: Choice of contractor and formalities

The difficulty with our new windows is how to find a fine balance between conformity with preservation orders and modern comforts, especially concerning the energy balance.
Remember: We are a monument :-) and therefore we have to consider quite a lot of regulatory requirements. The most important ones are:

1. Windows must be outward opening (which I love in general but which is a pest when you do your window-cleaning...)

2. Divided-light windows

3. Narrow profiles

After checking several offers, we decided to commission a carpentry from a nearby village to build our new windows. They use local wood and ecologically compatible paint, usually from Auro, which was an important factor in our decision-making. Especially as some of the new windows will be built in in the nursery - good to know no toxins will evaporate.

Here is a drawing of the windows we'll have built in, they are so-called "Kreuzstockfenster", is the English expression for it "crossbar window"?

The next steps (protected and listed building) have to be these:

a) submit a building application to the monuments administration

b) wait for their decision and especially the important STAMP of permission

c) after works will be finished: acceptance of construction work by the authorities

We've managed up to step b) and here it is, the stamp of permission:

November 13, 2008

New windows, part I: Advance information

Almost two years ago, even before we moved into our witch's hut, I already wrote a post about insulation and new windows. And now we finally start on this huge project. We'll exchange some of the old windows, but don't worry, of course we're not going to rip out the historical ones but only the really ugly windows from the time between 1960 and 1980. Those errors in taste we want to replace by new windows that are on one hand looking like the original ones (construction and material) and on the other hand are well insulated and energy-saving.

We'll go ahead with this project just step by step as it would be too expensive to renew all of the windows at the same time. What makes things really expensive is the fact, that all of the 22 (!) windows in our house are of different size and each one of them has to be a one-off production.

So we decided to start with the kitchen windows (two of them) and the window and the balcony door in the nursery. They probably date from the 70ies and are really not worth keeping:

We've got one old picture of how those windows looked like before they were exchanged for those ugly ones (marked in red):

I'm sorry for the quality of that picture, we only have a paper-copy of it. The picture is part of a description of our house from around 1975 when a whole inventory of Hornburg's old houses was issued by the local authorities.

This is the same view today with horrible windows:

I love the old ones and the new windows are going to look like that again, hurray!

November 07, 2008

The previous owners - back to 1732

Just a few weeks before our son was born in June, I finally made it to the town's archive to see whether I could find anything on our house or the previous owners.

Well, one visit to the archive is definitely not enough... But even in a first short visit I found out quite a lot, I was especially excited to see a list of the previous owners back to 1732.

That means of course, that we are still missing information on the first 150 years after the house was presumably built around 1590 but it is a start!

Here are the owners:

1732: Georg Cuno Hannemüller, Balbierer und Brauer

1769: Christoph Nürnberg

1785: Fr. Relicta(Witwe)Dierbergen

1799/1800: Rel. Dierbergen, modo Dan. Hotopff

1808: Hr. Hotop

Christian Steinbach, Fleischer, 48 J.; Marie Osteroth, 43 J.; Sohn: Christian * 1807

1933: Peters, August, Ackerbürger, Bagmann, Emma, geb. Peters, Witwe

Especially the first one is interesting as it says that he was a brewer and a barber. As the cellar in our house used to be a brewing cellar we can be quite sure that in the 18th century, beer was brewed directly in our house. Moreover rumour goes, that Georg Cuno Hannemüller's wife has gone mad after his death and that they had to get her out of the house by force. Quite spooky...

More history as soon as I make it to the archive again! I really want to try and find out more on the people listed above.