Station 4

Churchartistically extended and landmark of the city

Information point:
- Church square and Catholic parish church of St. Alexande
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Romanesque church of 1250 and church extension in 1905
Shortly after the foundation of the town, a small Romanesque hall church was built around 1250; it was first mentioned in a document in 1261. The history of the parish is closely connected with the Grafschaft monastery, which sent monks to Schmallenberg for pastoral care for almost 600 years.
The church survived the town fire of 1822, but by the end of the 19th century it was no longer sufficient for the larger parish. So it was extended in 1905: Due to its art-historically significant pillars and vaulted structure - two bays and the apse date from the 13th century - the old church was preserved and integrated into the newly built church in neo-Romanesque style. The architect and later master builder of Aachen Cathedral, Prof. Buchkremer, was responsible for the conversion and new construction. The choir of the old, east-facing church was incorporated as a side aisle into the south-facing new church building. The components of the old church were plastered white from the outside and thus stand out from the new building. Remarkable is the altar in Nazarene style, dedicated to the town's patron saint St. Valentin. On the left side of the old church is the late Gothic sacrament house, which was built before 1500.
In the course of the reconstruction, the old church tower, which dates from the middle of the 13th century, was demolished and a new, mighty tower was built outside the church in the northeast of the church complex. In combination with the parish church of St. Alexander, it provides a striking counterpoint to the elongated structure of the town complex. The extension was completed in 1906 and met with unanimous praise from the residents. The tower of St. Alexander dominates the overall structure of the church, according to the press at the time, and is the "landmark of our city, an architectural masterpiece" that "captures the rhythm of the mountains" and "plays a role in shaping the city and the landscape".

Religion and faith in everyday life
Until the 1950s, the consecration of the water was held on Holy Saturday in the church square. Large zinc tubs and wooden vats in which the consecrated water was kept stood on the square: With milk cans, buckets, jugs and bottles the water was scooped out of the containers, mostly by children and often under great crowd, and brought home. So much water was fetched that one could get by with it all year round: At Easter the house was blessed with it, the cattle got some water in the drinking trough. The consumption was enormous, because it was also distributed in the fields and fields.
Church processes were also firmly integrated into everyday life until well into the second half of the 20th century.

The church tower problem
The church tower, newly erected in 1906, was made of Winkhauser Grauwacke (grey sandstone), the outer shells were bricked with stones suitable for hammering, while remnants, uneven stones, slate and bricks were used inside. The spaces in between were filled with rubble and small stones. The mortar used was slag sand, a cheap waste product from the ironworks in the Siegerland, which had similar properties to cement. Soon after completion of the church tower, moisture problems began to appear. It was extensively renovated as early as 1958, but the basic problem could not be solved. In the 1980s, the question "How to make the tower watertight?" became more and more urgent. Should it be plastered or conserved, demolished and rebuilt?
In 1996 the church tower was finally demolished. It was planned to rebuild it according to Buchkremer's original plan, but with better building materials and modern construction techniques. In the planning phase after demolition, cost issues and questions of materials came to the fore. Increasingly, the design was also the subject of controversial discussion among the population, and a veritable battle broke out over the financing and the type of redesign of the church tower. One side was for an original reconstruction, the other for a modern version. In the end, a compromise was realised: between 2001 and 2004 a simple concrete tower was built, covered with a stone cladding - stability was thus combined with a reconstruction that was almost true to the original. In 2013/14 the entire church was completely renovated. Through a door in the north wall of the old church and a connecting passageway, the visitor enters the interior of the tower. Today it contains a meditation room and is open to the ceiling: "The height opens the sky", according to the text of the church guide.

Church of St. Alexander before 1900 (before reconstruction)

City view with church from east 1899

Schmallenberg old town with parish church, view from the east, after 1950

Catholic parish church of St. Alexander around 1970

Weststraße - Procession at the church square

Corpus Christi in West Street, corner of Elisabeth Street, around 1955

Until the 1950s the water consecration took place on Holy Saturday

Removal of the roof domes before the demolition of the old church tower in 1995.

The churchyard at Christmas time