Station:  Palais Wunderlich: Façade
Three generous floors and an attic with 23 foot ceilings – that’s seven metres high. The mansion commissioned by Carl Ludwig Wunderlich in 1798 was the statement of a confident member of the bourgeoisie: a successful merchant who had been elected mayor.
He stored his wares on the ground floor, in the cellar and the loft. The living quarters were on the first and second floors. The reception rooms overlooked the street, and behind them were the hallways and kitchens. The private rooms and bedrooms probably faced the courtyard.
The wide double doors on the central axis date from this period – meaning around 1800. With its elegant design, its carved garlands, the sun and flower symbolism, it has all the features of the "Empire style" – the neo-classical style prevalent under Napoleon. The architect, whose name hasn’t been handed down, probably came from somewhere west of the Rhine, since his building is in what’s known as the "Straßburg style".
The cast-iron window guards with an oak railing are also reminiscent of French domestic architecture. And the balcony on the first floor, the piano nobile or principal floor, also dates from the first construction phase. No doubt the residents stepped out on to the balcony to see and be seen – at military parades, for example. On such festive occasions, they flew the flag – the flagpole in black, white and red, the colours of the German Empire from 1871.
An early 19th century city manual for the Grand Duchy of Baden has the following words of praise for Kaiserstrasse and its upper-class elegance:
"The town itself is not large, but it has received a considerable increase thanks to the suburb laid out in the direction of Dinglingen. This is where the beautifully fashioned houses owned by the Lo(t)zbeck, Hugo, Trampler, and Wunderlich families are to be found, with their extensive factory buildings and tasteful gardens."
Take a look at your screen: that’s what Kaiserstrasse was like in the early 20th century. Palais Wunderlich is the tall, stylish building on the far right of the photograph.
At the time, the entire façade was still covered in thick layers of paint, which caused real problems trying to prevent damp in the masonry. The rich red of the sandstone only reappeared after the refurbishment carried out over the past few years.
More about this subject at the next stop, which deals with the little alley that runs along the right-hand side of the building. It’s called Tiergartenmühlgasse – in modern parlance something like “Game Preserve Mill Alley”.
All depictions: © Palais Wunderlich