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Wednesday, 2019-01-16

About the History of the Tower

The oldest portions of the Hölderlin House were part of the medieval town fortifications. The town wall and the bailey wall forming the towns northern and southern boundaries as well as the base of a fortifying tower, the embrasures of which are still visible today, are presumed to date back to the 13th century.

Illustrations of the city as it appeared in the early 17th century depict a building next to the tower - a dyeworks called »die Farb«. The space between the walls, including the base of the tower, was first totally built over in 1778. The characteristics peculiar to Hölderlins Tower originated at that time: the proprietor of the house was permitted by the municpial council »to place an octogonal chamber on the base of the tower and to connect the towers new roof with that of the house«.

In 1807, the master joiner Ernst Friedrich Zimmer purchased the house. He maintained modest lodgings above his workshop, which was located on the ground floor. It was into these quarters that Friedrich Hölderlin moved in the same year. In order to provide more living space for his growing familiy and for tenant students, Zimmer had the house extended and reconstructed several times in the following years - the last time was in 1828, after he had given up the workshop. The present arrangement of rooms corresponds for the most part to the original design - three rooms and a long hallway which Hölderlin would pace up and down »every day with tremendous strides«. The house remained in the possession of the Zimmer family until 1865.

Hölderlinturm vor dem Brand 1875

In 1874, the master shoemaker Carl Friedrich Eberhardt purchased the premises and had the roof elevated in order to accomodate additional rooms. He ran a bath house on the ground floor; a few walled tubs are still present under the floor. On the 14th of December 1875, the house and tower caught fire: the ground floor was damaged and the upper floors, including Hölderlins »rotunda«, completely destroyed. The new house which was then quickly built upon the old foundation walls showed changes in the exterior and interior. The tower, every storey of which was now round, was provided with a pointed cupola separate from the house. The staircase was repositioned to the west to make room for an entrance to the house from the Bursagasse. The phrase »Hölderlins Tower« appeared for the first time in the construction plans.