History

Dear Guests,

We would like to extend a warm welcome to you at the “Alte Haemmelei” (old sheep pen) hotel. After a 55 year gastronomical time-out, one of the historical inns of our historic health resort town Bad Frankenhausen is beginning its “second life” as a cultural landmark rich in tradition. It has been remodeled and modernized with great care. It now offers the comforts of our time embedded in the Frankenhausen surroundings and memories.

Wilhelm Grelle acquired the house—today Bornstrasse 33, then No. 198 III meaning that it was house number 198 in the third district—from master pottery craftsman Soelle. On August 24, 1876, he received the concession for the inn, officially called “Grelles Restaurant”. In humble, simple spaces (the “store, a few parlor rooms, the kitchen, the garden house at the city wall, and the outhouse in the corner of the yard”) the “respectable man with a good reputation” began his business activities. Unfortunately, the previous innkeeper Vogel had not been able to ensure peace and quiet in his inn. The Bornstrasse neighbors had filed written and oral complaints against “clamor, screaming, the singing of improper songs, yelling, fighting, beer drinking by the barrel, and gruesome hooting”. The city council thus welcomed Grelle’s petition, granting him permission for the inn in 1878. Vogel’s concession was finally revoked in 1880. The older and well-beloved Grelle established peace and quiet in his own way.

Forced migration eased up over time. It led to social gaps among those that wandered the country roads. Besides the craftsmen and merchants etc., who visited for professional reasons, “beggars, peddlers, homeless, guilty and innocent needy paupers, vagabonds, and dawdlers” also came to stay at the inn. Part of Grelle’s social merit was his commitment along with the city council and the “Verein gegen Hausbetelei” (association against begging) to ensure humane care of such people. Wilhelm Grelle offered an affordable bed for the night as well as a meal, usually free of charge, funded by welfare campaigns.

Incidentally, the inn was officially named—the reason seems obvious—“Zur Heimat”, referring to it as a home. In 1904, the aged Grelle sold the inn to his son-in-law Brueckner. He did so reluctantly. With the help of his neighbor the builder Reichenbach, Robert Brueckner enlarged and reconstructed the inn, which “has become an ornament on Born street, bringing honor to its owner … and to its builder”. District Administrator Klipsch, Church Councilman Hesse, and the mayor found many words of praise when the house re-opened, showing its new face to the public in October 1904. Brueckner headed the inn through its final years together with his son-in-law Karl Huke, until his death in January 1942. A little while after Brueckner’s passing, the business was closed, likely due to the general and personal effects of the war.

Part of Frankenhausen’s originality is the people’s knack for giving things certain names that deviate from the official versions. Our “Alte Haemmelei” was thus never officially called by such a name, though its occupants established this name over decades. How was this possible? Over the course of many years, numerous attempts were made to explain how the phrase-happy inhabitants of Frankenhausen who are always receptive for humorous new terms came up with the name Haemmelei. Contrary to today, in the previous century, Haemmel was a common spelling for the word Hammel (sheep). Some believe that our inn’s name can be derived from this term because sheep were driven to their stables through a gate in the city wall near the inn. Presumably, the term’s origin is rooted in Grelle himself. As simple man, he already became a Frankenhausen archetype. The affable man is described as helpful, respectable, and acknowledged. In Zierfussstrasse (adorned foot street)—previously Hunnegasse (=Hundegasse  dog lane)—he had had an inn since December 1870, taking care of his guests together with his wife Anna, tending to field and garden, and getting along brilliantly with his devoted horse, which he named after Anna.

What a sight it was when the stately, red-haired Uncle Wilhelm in his dark suit and top hat proudly sat on his coach box, driving a wedding carriage with his Anna! And this Wilhelm Grelle had—of course—his nickname. In Frankenhausen he was called “Haemmel Grelle”. And thus his inn was called the Haemmelei. And as innkeeper in Bornstrasse, he brought the name to his new home. In the vernacular, it has remained as such to this day. There can be no conclusive analysis of the peculiarities and habits which gave our agreeable and diligent Wilhelm Grelle this decorative nickname—and it probably doesn’t matter. We remember Wilhelm Grelle as an industrious, socially active person and as a successful innkeeper and lover of animals. And thus the inn is now for the first time officially called “Alte Haemmelei – Tavern and Inn”.