Development of the „Benediktinerinsel“ into a public baths and sanatorium (until 1842)

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„Die ehemalige Benedictiner Insel zwischen Paderborn und Neuhaus“ im frühen 19. Jahrhundert, Zeichnung von Franz Joseph BRAND (Erzbischöflich Akademische Bibliothek, im Folgenden EAB PbAV Paderborn, Cod. 178, fol. 46)

As early as the 16th century, the commercial use of six springs in the area between the Pader and the Rothebach is documented, which was called an „island“ early on due to its confinement by both bodies of water. On the one hand, the springs were said to have a healing effect, on the other hand they fed several fish ponds and thus contributed to the nutrition of the regional population. The physician and natural scientist Jakobus Theodorus Tabernaemontanus described the „Roderbrunn bey der Statt Baderborn“[1] (Roder well near the town of Paderborn) as a spring containing an „Erdbechisch Wasser“[2] (earth brook water) in his book “New Wasserschatz” (New Water Treasure), the widely used standard work on healing springs in German lands at the time.

Reliable information about the ownership and concrete use of the land between the Pader and the Rothebach has only been available since the early 18th century. It is known that the so-called „island“ was owned by the von Kanne family around 1700. The cathedral chaplain Baron von Kanne sold it to the Abdinghof monastery during the tenure of Abbot Pantaleon Bruns (1709 1727) for 1300 Taler. The area, henceforth called „Benediktinerinsel“ (Benedictine island) or „Möncheteich“ (Monks’ pond), was used by the monks as a summer retreat and for horticulture. For this purpose, they built a two-storey garden house with a large hall and a stone bridge that served as an entrance.

After the Paderborn land had fallen to the Kingdom of Prussia in the course of secularisation in 1802, the royal Prussian domain administration put the Benedictine island up for lease on 6 April 1803. It is not known whether a lease agreement was actually concluded. As a result of the Napoleonic Wars and the reorganisation of Europe, the island passed into the possession of the Kingdom of Westphalia before it was awarded to the Kingdom of Prussia again in 1813.

On 20 July 1815, Wilhelm Anton Möller purchased the 6.74-acre property[3] from the Royal Prussian Domain Administration. The purchase price was 644 Reichstaler plus an annual payment of 30 Reichstaler. For the first time, there are now references in the documents to a coffee house where public festive events were held.


„The former Benedictine Island between Paderborn and Neuhaus" in the early 19th century, drawing by Franz Joseph BRAND (Erzbischöflich Akademische Bibliothek, hereafter EAB PbAV Paderborn, Cod. 178, fol. 46)
„The former Benedictine Island between Paderborn and Neuhaus" in the early 19th century, drawing by Franz Joseph BRAND (Erzbischöflich Akademische Bibliothek, hereafter EAB PbAV Paderborn, Cod. 178, fol. 46)

The building may have been the former garden house of the Benedictines. In 1830, Anton Möller’s son Ferdinand took over the property. For reasons that are not known, he sold the property on 13 January 1836 to Franz Xaver Evers, who sold it at the end of the same year to the furrier Heinrich Linnenbrink. Linnenbrink had presumably acquired further land, for on 24 February 1840 he advertised in the „Paderbornsches Intelligenzblatt“ that he intended to lease the Benedictine island, now about 10 acres[4] in size, with garden and meadow as well as a large ditch that would be used for fish farming, for five or ten years. The mineral springs on the site, the coffee house and the outbuildings would be suitable for setting up „a very advantageous bathing establishment at little cost“[5]. Apparently a tenant could not be found. Consequently, Linnenbrink sold the property to the gold worker Franz Anton Evers on 29 August 1841. The notarised contract states that the island contains several springs in a circle of about 40 feet, the temperature of which is a constant 14 ½ 0 R.[6] The latter information coincides with those of later years.

Possibly stimulated by the upswing in bathing and spas that had been observed since the 1830s, and which could be identified in particular in the nearby sanatoriums in Lippspringe, Meinberg and Driburg, the new owner tried to set up a profitable bathing and spa business.

In 1841 and 1844 he commissioned the chemist Dr. Witting and the court counsellor Brandes to analyse the spring water. Their unpublished results proved its extraordinarily high sulphur content and thus its healing properties. In addition, Evers had the course of the spring explored in more detail and a 36-foot[7] long pipe laid. With the help of another 12-foot[8] pipe, the spring gushed much more strongly than before and thus provided a richer foundation for bathing. Finally, he invested in the construction of a 23 x 10 m pool and a single-storey bathhouse. Several commercial buildings complemented the facilities. Evers leased the aforementioned garden restaurant, including a covered bowling alley, to the innkeeper Jean Lindemann, about whom no further information is available.

[1] Tabernaemontanus, Jacobus Theodorus: New Wasserschatz. Das ist: Von allen heylsamen Metallischen Minerischen Bädern und Wassern … Francfurt am Main 1581, p. 569.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Approx. 1,7 ha.

[4] Approx. 2,5 ha.

[5] „Paderbornsches Intelligenzblatt“ No. 18 of 29 February 1840, p. 115.

[6] The value corresponds to the Réaumur temperature scale commonly used in Europe at the time and is converted to 18.125° C

[7] Approx. 10 m.

[8] Approx. 3,5 m.

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This is an excerpt from an essay by the historian Jana Völkel and the historian Prof. Dr. Peter Fäßler. The original title of the essay is: „Die Ottilienquelle, das Inselbad und die 'Curanstalt Inselbad bei Paderborn'. Eine Dokumentation“. Should you have further interest in the economic history of the Pader, we recommend downloading the complete essay (PDF file).

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