About the history of the house
The history of this collection begins in the mid-19th century. Inspired by the revolutionary national mind of the time, the Historical Association for Württembergian Franconia was founded in Künzelsau in 1847. Its purpose was 'to thoroughly explore the history of its sphere of activity, namely especially in its details, including the artifacts' and 'to promote the love to the natal soil'.
The seat of the association, including the collection of artifacts, was relocated to Hall in 1873. The association's museum moved several times within the town, before it acquired its final location in the Staufen-age Keckenturm, now called the 'Fränkisches Heimatmuseum', in the early 1930s. This building was chosen because Keckenburg castle was believed to be the last one of the seven castles that legend named as the basis for the foundation of Schwäbisch Hall.
Now called the Keckenburgmuseum, the association's museum was re-opened after the war during the 800 years anniversary of the town in 1956. The town of Schwäbisch Hall assumed the co-sponsorship in 1981. Beside the new name, considerable extensions and a massive rebuilding of the showrooms were conducted until 2001 when the Stadtmühle was inaugurated. Modern architecture and contemporary presentation forms integrate harmoniously into the old structural framework today.
New exhibits in the museum
The tread-wheel crane
The Hällisch-Fränkisches Museum has a new attraction: a replica of a medieval crane, about four metres high and moved by a tread wheel. In mediaeval times such cranes were found on the construction sites of any high building, for example of churches like Saint Michael's in Hall, of tower houses like the Keckenburg or of fortifications. The wooden hoist allowed to easily lift heavy components into any height. The visit in the museum turns into a practical historical lesson as children and adults, supervised by our attendants, operate the tread wheel and thus step into the footprints of medieval building workers.
Steinbach's girls' school
In a Jewish home in Schwäbisch Hall's suburb of Steinbach, there was a chamber synagogue whose wood panelling was colourfully enchased by Eliezer Sussmann, probably about 1738. This Polish painter was at about the same time active in nearby Unterlimpurg where he has also decorated a prayer chamber. After the closing of Steinbach's synagogue in the early 19th century, its painted walls were devoted to other use inside the house. Its remains were recently found during renovation work in the attic. The Historical Association for Württembergian Franconia acquired the remaining boards for the Hällisch-Fränkisches Museum that ordered the State Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart to restore the panels and to reconstruct their original arrangement. It turned out that almost the complete panelling of the women's side of Steinbach's synagogue had been preserved.
The Hebrew word, misrach, means 'east', indicating the turning of the Jews towards the east when praying. This term is also applied to an image panel that indicates the direction of prayer on the east wall of a flat. This intensely coloured misrach was inscribed by Lezer (Eliezer), son of Pfeifer Ber, choir leader of Crailsheim, on 16 June 1891. The characters, arranged in a chess-board pattern, read both horizontally and vertically, 'Faithfulness/springs forth/from the earth' (psalm 85:11).
Maria Holch's cabinet
This cabinet, made of different wood in the 17th/18th century, received its coloured enchasing probably in 1903. The small oil paintings show the Josen tower in Gelbinger Gasse (north view), the Weiler gate (north view), the Crailsheim gate (east view) and the Red Footbridge (south view).
Penny farthing and flag of the Comburg cyclists' association
Ulrich Mergenthaler and Reiner Maurer of the Comburg cyclists' association donated two unusual collector's items to the museum. The head-high penny farthing of the 'Express' brand, dating from 1882, and the association's flag that was consecrated in 1911 document in the Stadtmühle the history of Steinbach's cyclists' association, founded in 1902. The front side of the standard is adorned by a view of Comburg castle, a cyclist, elegantly lifting his cap, hails the viewer on the back.