Station 2

The reconstruction in 1822Jewel of the classicistic town planning

Information points:
- Residential building Weststraße 23
- Residential building Weststraße 32: Residential building Mayor Clemens Dham; former boarding school
- Residential building Weststraße 3

The fire of 1822
On 31 October 1822 a devastating town fire destroyed a large part of the 151 houses in Schmallenberg. It broke out in the south of the town near the "Stübben Haus", which stood next to the Schmalen Haus and today's town hall. The "Schmales Haus" (today's town archive) is one of the few that survived the fire

Here you can read the report of the chronicler Arnold Dham.
"At 10 o'clock in the morning, when several citizens had left and gone out, the call went out; the fire bell was pulled. Now the fire broke out down in the town at Stübben Haus aufm Platze, which was the last house and stood to the southeast. The wind immediately drove the blazing flames onto Hermes building and the house. …. The fire spread like lightning and in a few minutes you could see front and back schools, also Groetel's house in bright flames (...). It was not possible to resist the fire when the water left the building. Although people were streaming in from the neighbouring villages to help, nothing could be started except to rescue the furnishings, for the fire was chased by the wind at the fastest possible speed up to Mittelstraße [today's Weststraße from the church to the boarding school building] and Hinterstraße [no longer existing, western parallel street of today's Weststraße]. Thus the flames could be seen raging crosswise in the streets, so that nobody could pass the streets anymore. In two hours 131 houses were lying in ruins with all their fruit, food, forage and movables and nobody could save anything. Thirty-one cellars, which were fireproof, remained good, but everything else collapsed, and everything in them was burned (...)
The frightening roar of the wind, the hooting and puffing of the flames, the crumpling of the fruit, the crashing of the collapsing houses, the rising flame from the many fourages put the citizens in the greatest fear and anxiety, and seemed to be completely stunned. They had encamped around the city, each with his saved belongings, and had to lie under the open sky for several nights until they found rooftops in the neighbouring villages. "The cattle ran in the fields and gardens in confusion and roared without a sound [Dham, Franz Arnold, Chronica Schmallenbergensis, in: Schmallenberger Heimatblätter 23/1970, p. 9]

Of 151 houses, 132 were destroyed. Town fires were common in the Middle Ages and in the early modern period, when the narrow, wooden houses were burnt down: a flying spark and favourable wind conditions were enough to reduce a whole town to rubble in two hours. In Schmallenberg there were fires in 1608, 1732 and 1746; in 1822, however, only 19 houses and the parish church were preserved. Therefore the town was completely rebuilt.

New construction of the town from 1822-1825
The wave of helpfulness from the surrounding villages and settlements was great: a list from November 1822 contains relief goods (bread, potatoes, shirts, women's and children's clothes, meat and sausages) that were donated. Those affected found shelter with relatives or spent the winter in the most makeshift circumstances in the ruins of their houses.
From 1822 to 1825, the reconstruction - or rather, the new construction of the town was carried out on the basis of an overall plan, which was characterised by contemporary classicist architecture with its design principle of axial symmetry. Two parallel main roads running in a north-south direction (Oststraße and Weststraße) were connected by five transverse roads laid out perpendicular to them, which ended at a garden ring at the site of the former fortress ring. The streets laid out in this ladder system were made wider to protect against possible fires. Each individual house was built in a two-storey, three- to five-axis design according to classicist, axis-symmetrical aspects: Windows, doors and stairways are axially symmetrical. Almost all of the eaves-standing houses have a roof pitch of 42-47 degrees and always emphasise the central axis by means of steps or railings. The houses use slate for panelling and roofing and have white-painted cornices and window frames. The newly created, compact city silhouette with its symmetrical street fronts has remained largely intact to this day.
The new town was now built on a larger area than the old one, as basically detached houses were built. In addition, the streets were made wider. The consistently straightened, broadly surveyed streets intersected at right-angled intersections, the free-standing single house buildings in eaves position to the street resulted in linear aligned rows of houses. In addition to the two parallel main streets in a north-south direction, there were five crossroads which ended bag-like at a garden ring in the course of the old fortress belt. The classicistic reconstruction of the town of Schmallenberg is considered, along with those of the towns of Arnsberg and Minden, to be a remarkable urban development achievement of the early 19th century.

Involvement of local politicians
In Schmallenberg at the beginning of December 1822, a four-member building commission was formed by the Arnsberg authorities, which was under the control of the Meschede district administrator, who was to manage the new town construction and in doing so had to follow the government's building instructions. The member and chairman of this commission was the district medical officer Dr. Clemens Dham, who had long been regarded as the originator and intellectual head of the new, symmetrically oriented and classicistically designed town complex. The commission had to lead the reconstruction: It supervised the craftsmen, had to take care of the material, the accounting and was the direct contact person for the royal district authority in Arnsberg.

The plan and design for the new town development of Schmallenberg were drawn up in the Meschede District Office under the supervision of the government surveyor Schmitz and were examined by the government building officer Clemen. At the end of December 1822, Clemen was in Schmallenberg together with the Meschede District Administrator Pilgrim to present the provisional design to the city council. This plan took up the contemporary classicist design and planning principles, as taken into account by government surveyor Schmitz and government building officer Clemen during the urban redevelopment in Arnsberg, and which were also represented in Berlin by the Prussian head building director Karl Friedrich Schinkel. A city plan drawn up by government surveyor Schmitz is preserved in the Schmallenberg city archive. In the
new plan, which is characterized by a right-angled street network, the location of the former possessions changed. The old property areas had been surveyed in order to enable a fair redistribution. Old neighbourhoods were also retained as far as possible. The building commission, presided over by Dr. Clemens Dham, objected to one fact of the design during the presentation: they wanted the ladder-like ground plan to be shifted to the south so that the church would not be located on the edge but within the city. This would also connect the remaining buildings in the south-east better to the city. This wish was taken into account during the reconstruction. By the end of March, every burnt down person already knew where - according to the plan - he had to build his house. Only a few citizens were not satisfied; the remaining 126 declared their agreement with the planned reconstruction of the city.

Award as Historic Town Centre 1990 New buildings erected
later were constructed in the traditional style - half-timbered with slate roofs and slate cladding. Until about 1950 there were only a few exceptions. The classicistic layout from the 19th century, adapted to local conditions and the townscape characterised by half-timbered houses and slate roofs led to Schmallenberg being included in the state programme "Historic Town Centres in NRW" in 1990. Although Schmallenberg has no medieval building fabric, it was built on a classicistic planning basis. With its admission to the NRW Historic Town Centres Working Group, the town committed itself to taking special account of its architectural heritage in all planning.

Anecdote on the outskirts
The fire destroyed not only the houses, but also the food and feed for people and animals stored for the winter. In this emergency situation the inhabitants of Schmallenberg fed on porridge and were therefore ridiculed by the inhabitants of the neighbouring villages as "Schmallersken Breybälge". The sculpture "Breybalg" by Werner Klenk (in front of the town hall, at the southern end of Weststraße) commemorates this event.

The city of Schmallenberg in a view from 1724

Evaluation of a field sketch by the government surveyor Schmitz from December 1822.

Site of Schmallenberg in the 1830s (evaluation of field maps from 1831 and field books from 1834).

Schmallenberg around 1925.

Schmallenberg around 1978

Residential building at Weststraße 11.

Entrance to the residential building at Weststraße 11.

Listed town house in Weststraße 32

Half-timbered semi-detached house in Weststraße 38

Schützenfest: Train through the Weststraße 1912.

Shooter parade on West Street

The West Street in winter, December 30, 1923

The West Street in winter 1965

Dr. Clemens Dahm

Clemens Dham was born in Harbecke in 1785. His mother came from Harbecke. His father, Franz Arnold Dham (1758-1827) came from Arnsberg to Schmallenberg, where he was employed as a city secretary. Arnold Dham is the author of the "Chronica Schmallenbergensis", a chronicle of the town history for the years 1787 to 1822

Clemens Dham studied medicine and surgery and came to Schmallenberg in 1808 at the age of 23 as a public health officer. One year earlier, the Hessian government, which was in charge of Schmallenberg between 1802 and 1816, had stipulated that a public health officer was to be employed for each administrative district.
Also in 1808 Clemens Dham married Bernhardine Balzer, and one year later the first son, Carl Johann Ludwig Dham (see also his biography in chapter six) was born.
After the devastating town fire of 1822, Clemens Dham became chairman of the "Building Commission", which was responsible for ensuring that the new building plan laid down by the Arnsberg government was adhered to. He was thus instrumental in the reconstruction of Schmallenberg in the classicist style.
Clemens Dham was strongly involved in Schmallenberg's association system: He was one of the driving forces behind the foundation of the Schmallenberg Shooting Association in 1820 and was its captain for thirty years (1822-1849, 1865-1868). He also continued the "Chronica Schmallenbergensis" started by his father and completed it around the years 1840-1858.
For his merits he was awarded the "Red Eagle Order IV. Class" by the Prussian King, in 1872 he was appointed to the Medical Council, in 1873 he was awarded the silver medal for vaccination.
He lived at Weststraße 32, where the boarding school was housed in later years; today the house serves as an office building.