Historic Orphanage

House 1

The frontage of the Historical Orphanage

Francke built the Hallesche orphanage on a busy trade route south of Halle in 1698. The three-storey building, visible from afar, has a plinth floor, an open staircase and a spacious two-storey mansard roof with tympanum. It adapted the architectural language of the Stadtpalais and is the nucleus of Francke's reform work. The basic structure of the future school town is inscribed here: The printing works, laboratories and storage facilities were on the ground floor, the bookshop and pharmacy opened their doors on the reception floor and the living and classrooms of the pupils were on the upper floors. High double-winged windows illuminated the interior and adorned the clearly structured front. The mansard roof in the lower roof offered space for the orphans as a dormitory, later the Kunst- und Naturalienkammer, the famous »Wunderkammer« was set up here. Already in the 18th century there were public guided tours through the chamber. Visitors and pupils marvelled at the model of the Solomonic temple exhibited here.

Historical Views

coloured copper engraving of the Historical Orphanage before 1750

The orphanage in historical drawings

Colored copper engraving before 1750

It has been proven that the building was equipped with a mansard roof for the first time in the region. This roof construction creates an additional floor and thus allows optimal use of space. The restrained decoration of the front of the building was a style-forming feature of a Baroque movement that was characterised by a sober, sober style as an expression of Pietist Protestantism.

Wooden model from the 18th century of the orphanage

Models of the orphanage

Model from the Cabinet of Artefacts and Natural Curiosities

After the orphan boys had moved to the newly erected buildings at Lindenhof in 1734, the former dormitory was redesigned as a Cabinet of Artefacts and Natural Curiosities. The collection of models illustrates the visual lessons at Francke's schools. Among them is a fold-out model of the orphanage.

View of the orphanage in urgent need of renovation in 1992

The orphanage after 1990

View of the orphanage 1992

The Historical Orphanage was in a state of ruin at the beginning of the German reunification process. The windows were missing the panes, the house was full of pigeon droppings and the wood was badly damaged.

Facts about the history of the building

  • Laying of the foundation stone on 13 July 1698
  • Bookstore moves in on 2 August 1700
  • Establishment of a pharmacy on the basement level in 1701. Two years later it is moved to the north side of the 1st floor.
  • In 1734 the two upper floors were given to the Latin School for exclusive use.
  • 1734-1741 the Cabinet of Artefacts and Natural Curiosities is furnished in the former dormitory of the orphan boys in the top floor of the Historical Orphanage.
  • On 31 March 1945, shortly before the end of the Second World War, the Historical Orphanage was hit by a bomb. Parts of the building collapse.
  • Between 1945 and 1991 the Historical Orphanage was used by the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. During this time only the most urgent conservation measures were carried out. The building was heavily neglected in 1989/90 and would need a thorough renovation.