The half-timbered houses in the center of Großschönau
The Umgebindehäuser (a special type of half-timbered houses) are characterized by a unique architecture, which stretches across Europe. In Großschönau you can still visit 600 half-timbered houses. Most of them have been lovingly restored and are true architectural works of art. Like the German Damask and Terry Museum (Damast- und Frottiermuseum), they bear witness to the interesting history of the town.
The local history of Großschönau in Saxony
Großschönau is located directly on the German-Czech border in southeastern Saxony. Leaving the town to the west, it passes directly into Varnsdorf in the Czech Republic. Today, Großschönau has about 5,300 inhabitants. According to the first document mentioning it in 1352 as “Magnum Sonow”, it was originally a so-called Waldhufendorf village. This is a rural settlement that was typically laid out in a clearing area.
In 1430 there was a documented knight’s seat of Peter von Maxen and from 1564 a manor. Significant changes occurred in 1666 when the Zittau council sent the brothers Christoph and Friedrich Lange to Holland to learn the damask weaving trade. Soon Großschönau became internationally known and supplied several European noble houses with high quality table linen.
Later, in 1834, the simplifying jacquard technique paved the way for today’s terry weaving. Still today the companies Damino GmbH. and Frottana Textil GmbH. & Co. KG are still very successful with these products.
The construction of the Umgebindehäuser
Originally they were practical agricultural buildings with three main parts: Stable, hall and parlor. Here, people and animals lived under one roof, as was usual at that time. Whereas, besides the farmhouse and the smallfarmers’ house, there are also weavers’ houses and factor houses (that is a trade settlement).
Characteristic is the log construction with horizontal timbers on top of each other. The so-called Umgebinde in half-timbered construction is a frame of wooden beams as the name suggests. This frame was filled with walls originally made of natural stone and clay mortar. This method of construction has now existed for about 350 years. The four dwellings pictured on Theodor Haebler Street are all over 200 years old:
No. 13 (far left) bears an inscription from 1816.
No. 15 (to the right) was built around 1760 and has a rear wing and walkway to the Faktorei at Kirchstraße 12.
No. 17 is dated 1800.
No. 19 (far right) bears the date 1819 and has a rear wing.
Part of the German Half-Timbered House Route
A total of about 19,000 such structures are still standing today from northern Bohemia and Lower Silesia to Saxon Switzerland and Upper Lusatia around the border triangle of Poland, Czechia and Germany. Großschönau has been a part of the “Upper Lusatian Upper Lusatian Half-Timbered House Route” since 2015. This is a circular route worth seeing through the communities of Kottmar, Oderwitz, Mittelherwigsdorf and Großschönau, as well as through the towns of Seifhennersdorf, Ebersbach-Neugersdorf and Herrnhut. In this regional area you can admire almost 6,500 half-timbered houses.
Origin of the name of Theodor Haebler Street
If you want to learn more about the origin of the name of this street, you should definitely pay a visit to the German Damask and Terry Museum in Großschönau. Already in 1826 a certain Johann Gottfried Lieske founded the factory for half cotton and half linen “Thee and coffee napkins”. His son-in-law Carl Gotthelf Häbler expanded the factory with all products wrapped in damask.
Later, the company also expanded and added a bleaching plant in 1856. Thus the linen damask factory and bleaching plant of J. G. Lieske & Häbler in Großschönau was established. The son of Mr. Häbler and Mrs. Lieske was Eduard Theodor Häbler. He was born in 1832 and died in 1850 at the age of 18. Probably this was the reason for naming the street after him.