Ermelerhaus history

The history of the „Ermeler Haus“ can be traced back to the year 1567 thanks to written sources.

The property located at Große Straße 11 (Breite Straße’s name until the 17th century) was first mentioned more than 450 years ago.

1567 – The property is mentioned for the first time in the castle
register in 1567: Eberhard Scheubelin paid 60 Schock „Schoß“ for
the house and yard, as well as 30 Cöln Schock for the garden.
1654 – Joachim Berchelmann’s widow paid 3 thalers and 8 pennies
as “quataliter down payment retainer”.
1711 – The artist Johann Friedrich Hübner (1812 – 1878) painted
“the Blavang piece with fresco at the front of the house” for 12
1724 – Up until this year, the house and property belonged to
the descendants of the court councillor Cocchius. Numerous artists
lived with her in rented accommodation, such as the painter
Thomas Huber, who executed in 1756 the ceiling painting in the
Sanssouci’s teahouse. It was then acquired by the renowned banker
Peter Robert von Wylich.
1760 – Peter Friedrich Damm, the war and military supplier of Frederick
the Great, bought the house for 20,000 thalers and converted
it into a rococo palace.
1761 – His monogram formed by the letters „P.F.D.“ as well as the
year „1761“ are painted of the ceiling in the staircase.
1762 – The decoration and fresco painter Carl Friedrich Fechhelm
designed the large hall (restorers in the year 1932 uncovered the
signature “painted by Fenchhelm 1762”). In the same year, the
wooden railing carved by the sculptor Johann Michael Hirn is removed
and replaced by the delicately forged rococo lattice that has
survived to this day.
1776 – The royal leather gear and uniform manufacturer Peter
Friedrich Damm died suddenly and unexpectedly in his house at
the age of 64.
1802 – 26 years after her husband, Damm’s widow also died. She
had inherited the house at Breite Straße 11 and lived in together
with her children.
1804 – The entrepreneur and tobacco manufacturer Johann
Heinrich Neumann acquired the house and property on the 20th
October 1804 for 30,400 thalers. He had the three-storey façade
redesigned with a single-axis central avant-corps in classical style.
The building is given two wide tendrils and palmette friezes and an
ornamental parapet. The zinc cast figures of Mercury and Justitia
crown the magnificent façade and are flanked by two vases.
1824 – Ferdinand Wilhelm Ermeler became the new owner for
40,000 thalers of the building, later named after him and the factory
halls behind it. He also acquired the inventory and all stocks of
the Neumann tobacco factory and continued its operations under
the name of Ermeler.
1825 – Ermeler had sections of the house carefully renovated and
his initials „W.E.“ as well as the year „1825“ painted on the ceiling
of the stairwell. The entrepreneur elevated the building to a
intellectual and culture centre of the old Berlin thanks to numerous
salon and cultural events on the Bel Étage floor.

1866 – Ferdinand Wilhelm Ermeler dies on the 26th June 1866. Albert
Ermeler, his son, continued to run the business and –like his
father- protected the historical building from modernisation. He
only had the staircase paintings renovated and used the opportunity
to add his monogram “A.E.” and the year “1872” to the existing
monograms. That same year, Albert Ermeler died and left the
house and the business to two of his grandchildren.
1875 – On the 30th October 1875, a devastating fire destroyed within
a few hours the mighty factory buildings on the rear property.
The front building with its magnificent halls and salons was spared
from the flames. The young businessmen did not let the tragedy
get them down and rebuilt the factory with a lot of money and
effort – more beautiful and modern than it ever was.
1893 – The „Ermeler Haus“’ at Breite Straße 11 is registered as a
“monument of bourgeois architecture” in the record of Berlin’s architectural
and artistic monuments.
1913 – The city of Berlin acquired the building, now popularly
known as the “Ermeler Haus”. Its cultural and historical value as
one of the few preserved patrician houses in Berlin had long been
1928 – The landscapist Curt Agthe (1862 – 1943) began restoring
the artistically decorated interiors on the first floor. His colleague
Carl Langhammer finished completing the restorations in 1931.
1932 – Dr. Heinrich Sahm, Berlin’s Lord Mayor, made the “Ermeler
Haus” accessible to the public as a branch of the Märkisches
1945 – The house was heavily occupied and its ornate decorations
struck by machine-gun ∅ / impacts / throbs?
1953 – The Berlin City Council commissioned the extensive restoration
of the „Ermeler Haus“. This restoration work lasted until
the beginning of the 1960s and cost approximatively one million
GDR marks.
1966 – The recently restored „Ermeler Haus“’ monument at Breite
Straße 11 is demolished, which was heavily protested internationally.
The monument conservators could not prevent it, but they
obtained a detailed survey of the building as well as the extension
and storage parts of the historical furnishings.
1969 – Risen from the ruins: the „Ermeler Haus“ celebrated its
re-opening on the 6th October 1969. Its new location, somewhat
narrower by a few centimetres and shorter by a few meters, can be
found in a gap at Märkischer Ufer 12.
The historical building elements previously stored away (such as
doors, stair railings, cherubs, ceiling paintings and tiled stoves) are
reinstalled in the newly erected building.
With the wine restaurant on the Bel Étage floor, the café on the
ground floor and the pub in the basement, the “Ermeler Haus” acquired
its reputation over the next few years as one of the best
restaurants in the GDR.
1997 – The building now called “Ermelerhaus” receives a modern
extension, in which art’otel Berlin Mitte starts its operations.

Conversion to a rococo-palace

The Ermelerhaus is regarded as a memorial to 18th- and 19th-century
bourgeois living culture and at the same time as a testimony
to urban development and monument preservation in the
20th-century city.
With its present form being re-built around 1760, the „Ermeler
Haus“ was already registered as a unique „monument of bourgeois
architecture“ in the Berlin’s architectural and artistic monuments
list published in 1893. The building stood out thanks to its location
on the Breite Straße, known as the “Triumph Mile”, and its immediate
proximity to the Berlin city Palace. The “Ermeler Haus” is particularly
famous for its rococo-style salons. More than 125 years
ago, the splendidly decorated rooms earned the “Ermeler Haus”
the reputation of being the “best example of a wealthy bourgeois
household” in the 18th century.
Three owners and their families shaped in particular the house
and its reputation. First and foremost, Peter Friedrich Damm, the
leather manufacturer and royal purveyor to the Prussian army
should be named. He acquired the property in 1760 for the price
of 20,000 thalers. In the following years, he had the property rebuilt
and extended according to his own vision. Like many other
royal court and military suppliers that became wealthy through
the wars during the reign of Frederik II, Damm wanted to surpass
the luxurious lifestyle of the aristocrats. For example, he commissioned
large wall and ceiling paintings to decorate the prestigious
rooms of the first floor with gleaming gold rococo halls. To this
day, they bear witness to the diligence, skill and art of the craftsmen
of the time.
After its completion in 1762, the „Ermeler Haus“was regarded as
one of the grandest house on Alt-Kölln’s most prestigious street.
After Peter Friedrich Damm’s death in 1776, his widow lived in
the house until 1802. After her death, the tobacco manufacturer
Johann Heinrich Neumann took over the house and property for
the price of 30,400 thalers.
Neumann bestowed the building with its simple yet richly decorated
early classicist façade with two offset palmette and tendril
friezes. On the roof, he had the two zinc cast figures set up, representing
Mercury – the symbol of trade – and Justitia – the symbol
of civil law.

Ferdinand Wilhelm Ermeler

The Ermelerhaus received its present name from the wealthy
entrepreneur Ferdinand Wilhelm Ermeler. In 1824 he purchased
the property including the magnificent residential
building, the production halls and the ancillary buildings for
40,000 Friedrichs d’or and gave it the status of residence and
production site.
Ermeler was originally a textile manufacturer before founding
his „cigar, smoke, snuff and chewing tobacco factory“
on Mühlendamm in 1808. With the advertising slogan „Where
does the best tobacco come from? Remember, my friend,
from Ermeler“ he conquered a leading position in the booming
tobacco business.
To this day, the company name W.E.&Co. is still to be seen at
the top of the Märkische Ufer façade. After all, the Ermeler
family had cared for the building and its richly decorated halls
for 90 years, making their popular social and cultural events
one of the intellectual and cultural centres of old Berlin. Even
in his old age, Ermeler invited people every Wednesday to public
evenings and on Sundays to closed events in his sumptuously
decorated salons – a true parade of artists, scholars and
Ferdinand Wilhelm Ermeler died in 1866 at the age of 82. After
the death of his last grandson, Richard Ermeler, the house
was handed over to the city of Berlin in 1913 for one million
Reichsmark and became a branch of the Märkisches Museum.
The City of Berlin already appreciated the historico-cultural
significance of the Ermelerhaus at that time and had the building
and its unique interior extensively restored. On October
17, 1932, the mayor Dr. Heinrich Sahm presented the Ermelerhaus
to the public in a ceremonial act. From then on, it operated
as a branch of the Märkisches Museum and, among other
things, housed the town council library.

Demolition and reconstruction

At the beginning of the 1960s, rumours began to spread that the
„ Berlin‘s fanciest and wealthiest town house“ was to be demolished
in order to make room for a street widening project in order
to accommodate a planned parade area for 400,000 people.
The Berlin monument conservator Waltraud Volk fought desperately
against the demolition once the city planning office had
finally decided in 1963 to demolish the Ermelerhaus behind the
back of the memorial office. On 1 August 1963, Waltraud Volk
(1924 – 1996), obviously upset, wrote to her superior, City Councillor
Fritz Wolff: „The procedure of the City Planning Office is illegal.
(…) In no case can the approval for the demolition be given
by the preservation of historical monuments. (…) According to
the Protection of Monuments Act, we ask you to lodge with the
Lord Mayor a protest against the demolition, since there are no
urban planning necessities.“
In her argument, as to why the Ermelerhaus should be preserved,
the art historian writes: „The Ermelerhaus dates from the
second half of the 17th century and received valuable rococo
furnishings in the 18th century. The staircase and the ceiling
paintings are particularly well known. At the end of the 18th
century, the façade was given its present appearance. That
building stands as Berlin history. It has always been regarded
as the finest and richest town house in the city. After the Second
World War it was the only building that has survived along with
its interior decoration. (…) The Ermelerhaus is of great artistic
and historical importance, especially as it houses the only original
rococo interior in Berlin.“ She also predicted damage to the
image of the workers‘ and farmers‘ country to her superior: „The
demolition of the building will probably be met with international
On the 5th August 1963, the art historian wrote equally angrily
to the city planners of the state-owned company Berlin-Projekt:
„We do not agree with this project. (…) It is unacceptable on the
part of the Department for the Preservation of Historical Monuments
that the amount of these art-historically valuable objects
should be reduced from the number of Berlin‘s town houses,
which had so severely been diminished by the war. We shall pass
on a protest against the decision (…) to the Lord Mayor.“
The efforts of the monument conservators were not quite as
futile as had been feared. They were unable to prevent the dismantling
and demolition of the Ermelerhaus in 1966. But they
at least made sure that the house was measured, drawn and
photographed from inside and outside. The putti, stucco parts,
ceiling paintings, gildings and the staircase with the wroughtiron
railing that had been saved from demolition could be removed,
stored and installed in the new building on the Märkischer
Ufer. The reopening took place on the 6th October 1969, which
was a day after the 20th anniversary of the GDR‘s founding.

The Ermelerhaus nowadays

Up until the fall of communism, the Ermelerhaus was a real place of nostalgia for East
German citizens and a popular destination for tourists from abroad. In 1989, the Ermelerhaus
lost its exclusive position in the gastronomy of Berlin Mitte and, like the Raabe-
Diele, was forced to close. But the Ermelerhaus would not be the Ermelerhaus if it
did not add further chapters to its success story. In 1997 it was integrated into the newly
built hotel complex of art‘otel Berlin Mitte. A modern lifestyle and art hotel with 109
rooms and suites, dedicated to the Berlin artist Georg Baselitz and equipped with 328 of
his paintings, prints and etchings.
From then on, the historic premises on the first floor have been rented out for company
events and family celebrations. The Ermelerhaus has since become one of Berlin‘s ten
most popular wedding locations, where around 500 bridal couples have said yes to each
other to this day. On the ground floor and the inner courtyard, where Café Ermeler used
to be located, guests can once again enjoy international cuisine classics, signature cocktails
and exquisite wines from all over Europe in the Upside Down Bar & Restaurant.
Opened this summer 2019, the stylish Spa & Gym by art‘otel Berlin Mitte is located in
the Ermelerhaus in the basement where the rustic beer bar Raabe-Diele once stood. This
high-quality Spa & Gym with fitness studio offers 180 square metres of space in a firstclass
location, a gym with the latest generation of TechnoGym fitness equipment, a Finnish
sauna, two treatment rooms and a relaxation area.
Please contact us for information and offers:
art’otel Berlin Mitte
Wallstraße 70-73 · 10179 Berlin
Tel. +49 30 240 620