House from Heskem

Built: circa 1674 
Dismantled: 1974
Reassembled: 1977

The House from Heskem was mistakenly reconstructed as a byre dwelling in the Open Air Museum. When the original building was surveyed, the fact that the bizonal original building, an older post and truss construction, was extended by an addition in storeyed construction technique in the 18th century was misinterpreted. When the building was reassembled, it was restored to its assumed original state as a byre dwelling. But the House from Heskem is in actual fact only a residential building which was part of a larger farmstead that in turn consisted of a number of buildings. The building attracted the attention of the Marburg architect and ethnologist Karl Rumpf (1885 to 1968) as early as the 1960s. When the house was reconstructed at the museum, the entrance area of the hall zone, with the low-lying, horizontally divided door was reconstructed after a drawing by Karl Rumpf.

The timber framing of the living quarters of this presumed byre dwelling displays characteristics of box frame construction, for example, the corner posts and the principal posts extending over both floors on the eaves sides and the long braces extending over both floors. The corner posts do not rest on the horizontal foundation beam, but directly on the foundation. The gable side, in contrast, was constructed in the post and truss method.

The farming section, also bizonal with a stable and threshing floor, was newly created during reassembly. Construction details such as windows, stairs, and doors were recreated without findings from the time of the house’s origin, that means without demonstrable evidence. The layout of the interior was dictated by the timber framework structure.

When the dwelling was built in 1764, it may have supported a natural roof. When the house was restored in 2013, the roof was given a fresh cover of rye straw, since we can safely assume that this house, like most others dwellings and farm buildings in the country, was thatched with straw at the time of its first construction. On the whole, this building reconstructed without recourse to unambiguous findings serves as a warning against inappropriately dealing with the historic fabric of buildings in museums. A lack of experience with structure translocation, infills and rendering of timber-framed houses led to the use of unsuitable materials in the Open Air Museum’s early years. Within only a few years, great damage was done to historic buildings in this way.

Location in the Hessenpark