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The »KRANZBACH« History

Facts from a fairytale

Mary Isabel Portman
"By kind permission of the Trustees of the Portman Estate"

Mary Isabel Portman

»Das Kranzbach« certainly is no fairytale invention - it is an absolutely real hotel nevertheless, the story of its history could start with...

Once upon a time there was a lady from London, the Honourable Mary Isabel Portman, builder of "The Kranzbach Castle". In 1913, at the age of 36, this wealthy English aristocrat, known as a beautiful, self-confident and independent woman, signed the purchase contract for the "Kranzbach meadow near Garmisch". At this time, Mary Portman was studying music in Leipzig, Germany, practicing with her own Stradivari violin. She called numerous famous musicians her friends.

Detmar Blow and Ferdinand Billerey, two well-known English architects who felt inspired by the English "Arts and Crafts" movement, provided the drawings for the Kranzbach manor. It is the only building of this kind in Germany.

Soon called the "English Castle" by the local people, the property's typical gables - looking like stairways - remind one of Scottish or Irish country houses built of natural stone. A private concert hall and a grass surface tennis court were Mary Portman's special request. But all of her personal plans to construct a congenial place for herself and her culturally sophisticated friends were destroyed by the outbreak of World War I. The house was completed, but Mary Portman never had an opportunity to return. It is assumed that she never even saw her finished mansion.

In 1931, the Dortmund Evangelical Church discovered the fascinating building when they were searching for a holiday and convalescence home for young people from the heavily industrialized Ruhr area. The Church leased the estate from the Portman heirs.

On Christmas of 1933, a fire destroyed large areas of the building. After its renovation, the house once again served as a vacation home for young people. In 1936, during the Olympic Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, it was used as a dormitory. And during the first years of World War II, the Kranzbach became the home of many children from the "Kinderlandverschickung" (1). Once World War II was over, the Kranzbach was turned into a hotel hosting recuperating U.S. Army officers.

It took until 1947 before the Dortmund Evangelical Church could restart its vacation resort activities in the Kranzbach.

In late 2003, the Church sold the property to its current owners, who already operate the highly renowned wellness resort in Austria: "Der Steirerhof" in Bad Waltersdorf - located between Graz and Vienna.

Das Kranzbach's new architectural concepts and its renovation during 2006/2007 were realized by a team of architects from Innsbruck: David Edinger, Thomas Fischbach, Martin Aufschnaiter and Heinz Pedrini.

Ilse Crawford from London was in charge of the main building's (2) interior design.

In 2007, "Das Kranzbach" re-opened its doors as a "specialized Wellness Hotel".

(1) A program created by Hitler-Germany to protect mothers with small children and adolescents from the effects of war.
(2) the Mary Portman House