The Leustetten bark mill ceased operations in the early 1990s. The half-timbered house was at risk of collapse, and the mill race supplying water to and from the mill wheel no longer existed.
Then, in 1994, Rolf and Sylvia Hummel acquired the building with an ambitious undertaking in mind. They aimed to preserve a piece of engineering heritage and open it to the public as a museum. It was a happy coincidence that two of the people involved had a lot of experience in timber restoration: Rolf Hummel, as a master craftsman, and one of the two managing directors of the carpentry and joinery company ADI Hummel GmbH. Rolf Hummel made the restoration of the Leustetten Bark Mill a personal priority. It went without saying that the best possible effort would be made to preserve the original structure. The involvement of Baden-Württemberg’s State Monuments Office was crucial, as was the support of the Baden-Württemberg Monuments Foundation and the municipality of Frickingen.
The early 19th century half-timbered structure had not only suffered due to the passage of time. Inappropriate road construction had come too close to the building and reduced its stability. The structural timbers had serious dry rot due to years of high humidity. If the building was to be preserved and opened up to visitors as an example of an important historic trade, these problems had to be remedied and a sensible, sustainable concept developed.
The dry rot was dealt with and all load-bearing timbers strengthened. The upper floor, which had once been the bark store, was converted – first into a restaurant, and then into accommodation, while the lower floor was occupied by the museum. The water wheel was repaired. It’s now operational and once again capable of powering the large machines in the museum. Today, the Leustetten Bark Mill is the only one of its kind to have survived in the region of Upper Swabia-Lake Constance.
The private initiative gave rise to a support organisation which has taken on the job of looking after the building. It’s called the "Förderverein Gerbermuseum Lohmühle Leustetten e.V." The museum operates under the care of the municipality of Frickingen. From the Sunday before Easter until the 1st of November, tours of the museum take place at which dedicated volunteer guides explain the surviving tools and machinery. The Bark Mill Museum also takes part in Germany’s Mill Day, held annually on Whit Monday – in other words, the Monday after Pentecost.
All depictions: © Gemeinde Fricklingen