Franck-Haus - Baroque town house and "birthplace of sparkling wine"
Apart from the venerable church of St. Laurentius the Franck-Haus is the most important cultural sight of Marktheidenfeld.
Front side of the Franck-Haus
Franz Valentin Franck (1702 - 77), a rich wine merchant and trader with a worldwide network of trade relations, built this house in 1745 by enlargening two existing timber houses towards the street and the backyard and connecting it with a gatehouse over the entranceway to the yard into one building. Since that time the house is characterized before all by the showy facade.
The buildings arranged around the backyards served on the ground floor for the different purposes of the wine trade, the rooms above were used as living quarters. The old wine cellar is accessible from the yard. Around 1767 Franz Valentin Franck sold the premises. It is not clear if it was him or his immediate successors, the families Schatz, Firmbach and Schulz, who built the ballroom on the first floor.
The wine merchant Johann Georg Andreas Schulz (1735-1809) is the most noteworthy among Franz Valentin Franz' successors. It is said, that he invented the production of sparkling wine in Germany in this house.
The gateway to the backyard is adorned with two ceiling paintings; they depict Ceres and Bacchus, the goddess of plant growth and the god of wine. At the arch of the entrance to the cellar as well as in the backyard you find different versions of the builder's monogram.
The historic facade
The middle of the facade is enhanced by the arched gate giving access to the backyard, by a richly decorated middle part and the framework gable. The keystones of the windows in the ground floor area symbolize the four seasons on the right side and the four continents known at that time (less clearly) on the left. Standing lions beside the archway, turned towards the observer, hold oval shields in their paws; on these shields the building year of 1745 is shown, as well as the initials of the builder, FVF.
The keystone of the archway shows a coat of arms with a crested helmet and a lamb; a lamb with a crossed flag is the heraldic figure.This figure is often used as guild symbol of the butchers; there is no explanation why it is shown on this house. Furthermore, there is Maria Immaculata under a canopy on a stucco plinth, protruding from the wall and at the same time integrated into a shelled niche. The madonna is framed by a wreath of stars and holds a lily sceptre in the right hand; she is standing of a globe symbolizing the earth and crashes the head of a serpent under her foot, the symbol of the original sin.
The wine cellar
The cellar with its large wine barrels shows the year of 1620 at the entrance, depicting it as the oldest part of the premises. Two keystone at the stairway bearing the monograms of the owners show the house's history of posession: the unusually compiled FVF of 1737 stands for Franz Valentin Franck, the MS and the professional sign dating from 1772 stand for the shipowner Johann Marcus Schatz.
The Franck-Haus before its restoration
Bild: Franck-Haus vor Sanierung
After a long row of proprietors the Franck-Haus finally was acquired by the city of Marktheidenfeld in 1987. The restoration began in Juli 1994 after a thorough investigation in close contact with the Bavarian Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments in 1989. It was finished and handed over on March 7th, 1998. The restoration also brought back the red salon, left of the ballroom, with its fine stucco. The house once again received its smalt blue paint, which was also at the time of its first construction the most expensive paint, meant to attract the attention of the beholder.
The Cultural Center of Marktheidenfeld
After its restauration the Franck-Haus has become the cultural center of Marktheidenfeld. Art exhibitions are held here and - over the entire year - events like concerts and literary readings. The ballroom is used for weddings, but also for official receptions.
On the right side of the front building, on the upper floor, you find the galery and the ballroom. On the left, there is a meeting room for the elderly with internet café. Above, there are apartments. The rooms at the backside are also used for changing exhibitions on three storeys. There is also the "Franck-Stube", a coffeeshop with homemade cakes.
When the weather is good, you can sit in yard and enjoy a meal and a glass of wine. In the old wine cellar, where once the German sparkling wine was invented, there is now gastronomy. Also the History Club of Marktheidenfeld and the Region uses the wine cellar for special events.