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Information bulletin
(June 1951)

Ball, Robert P.
Goethe house restored,   pp. [3]-6 PDF (2.6 MB)


Page [5]


ously collected, and the family bedrooms, while on the
fourth floor, up under the roof, was the heart of the
house, the study where - at the old inlaid, ink-spattered
desk - Goethe wrote the first draft of "Faust,"
"Werther," the book that made him famous, and "Goetz
von Berlichingen."
The sunny rooms, the fine craftsman's work of the
furniture, the broad staircase of the house all radiate
well-being and leisure. It was a pleasant, cultivated life
in the lawyer's household on the Grosser Hirschgraben.
Goethe lived in the house until he was 26. Some years
later, in 1796, his aged mother sold the house, and part
of the furnishings were dispersed. But because Goethe was
already famous, all the belongings of the house - the
chairs, the clock, the backgammon board - were care-
fully preserved by their new owners and their children,
so that when the house was made a museum in the
midtdle of the last century, it was possible to find every
single object and return it to its place in the house, just
as it had been in Goethe's youth.
A 1 THE OUTBREAK of World War II all the furnishings
Xwere removed from the house and dispersed in 12
safe storage places in the country around Frankfurt.
Samples of all wallpaper and woodwork were taken and
placed together with detailed plans and drawings of the
house, outside and in, a precaution taken with all his-
toric buildings in Germany. Students at the Frankfurt
Srhool of Applied Art helped with drawings of door
lthlies and other small components. When the empty
shell of the house went up in smoke in the last years
of the war, the soul of the house was safe.
Nevertheless, it took determination to rebuild it. While
the war still raged, a Frankfurt construction firm made a
gift of Reichsmarks 300,000 for the work, but progress in
the hunger-wracked first years was slow. By 1947, how-
ever, the rubble had been cleared and the foundation
repaired. In that same year the Frankfurt Hochstift so-
ciety, administrators of the property, won City Council
appiroval to continue the work, and with private con-
tributions and enthusiasm the work was continued.
With currency reform the reconstruction took an up-
swirg. More gifts flowed in, one of the largest being
DM 150,000 donated by Mr. John J. McCloy from the
HI1COG Special Projects Fund. A Goethe stamp for the
Goethe year 1949, the 200th anniversary of his birth,
broug ht a rich harvest. Money and encouragement came
froim Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, Albert Schweizer,
Fiilz von Unruh and others. Thornton Wilder gave all
his German royalties.
Under the supervision of architect Theodore Kellner,
the plans and drawings became stone and plaster. Be-
cause only perfect restoration was good enough, masons
hoil to be found who could cut and set stones, roofers
who could fit slate shingles exactly as it was done in
the 18th century.
By early spring of this year all problems had been
solved; the house was finished, and the furnishings could
be brought back out of storage, none the worse for their
extended hibernation. The men who had worked so long
and so hard for the restoration could throw open the
doors to present and future generations of Goethe friends.
For the restorers, special admirers of the greatest Ger-
man poet, the task had had an inner justification. When
Goethe, as a lad of six, had helped lay the cornerstone
of the house, he had said, "I wish that this stone may be
preserved unchanged until the end of the world."
* *       *
TEXT OF MR. McCLOY'S SPEECH, translated from
German, follows:
It is an honor to participate in this occasion. In behalf
of the Allied High Commission, I thank you for this
opportunity to do homage to the genius of Goethe. In
this building we have an instance not only of reconstruc-
tion but also of rededication to what is finest in the
spiritual heritage of Germany.
Ladies and gentleman, I hope that you will read in the
words which I am expressing today on behalf of my two
colleagues as well as on my own, the sentiments which
our three countries and with them all the civilized nations
of the world harbor toward one of the greatest sons of Ger-
many. We see in this citizen of the former free German
Reichsstadt (imperial city), Frankfurt-on-the-Main, a man
whose life and whose works bear the mark of genuine
Germanism. We appreciate in him that he has given to
the German language a brilliance, a fullness, a richness
and a purity as no one before him - all which still ra-
diates to the present day. We salute in him, moreover,
Sunny and spacious drawing room on the second floor,
warmed against winter chill by great ornate tile stove.
JUNE 1951


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