Michael Foundation Receives Building Preservation Prize

Ceremonial handover of hessian building preservation prize to the team of Michael foundation
Photo: B. Lenz

The Michael Foundation of Darmstadt received the Denkmalschutzpreis of the State of Hessen on June 30, 2015 in Schloss Biebrich. The prize is awarded for historical building preservation. “This recognizes the more than exemplary restoration and renovation of Schloss Stockhausen, including the gardens,” said the State Conservation Office of Hessen.

The Michael Foundation was founded in 1986 by Dr. h.c. Peter Schnell. He purchased the manor home in Stockhausen, including its historic park and grounds, in order to offer it (among other uses) to the Altenschlirf community as a place for people with and without disabilities to work and live. Today, around 50 residents live on the estate, and another 70 are employed in caring for the park and gardens, in vegetable farming and processing, or in firewood and wool workshops; others are enjoying the estate in their retirement.

Furthermore, since 1990 the manor is also used by a school that trains special needs educators. Today, the “Campus am Park,” including the training school for educators with 16 employees and 104 students, brings the historical residence to life with constant activity and a lively presence. The estate has always remained open to the public. Despite its historical importance, the manor and park continue to enrich and enliven the area with 220 actively working and studying individuals as well as diverse activities. The manor is thus anything but a museum. At the same time, the building remains of considerable historical importance:  the terraced baroque garden, with a number of special features, has largely been preserved.

Around nine years ago it became clear that large areas of the terrace walls were in danger of collapse and required considerable restoration. To protect the residents and the many people who work and study on the grounds, as well as to preserve the special value of the manor home for the state of Hessen, the Michael Foundation decided in 2012 to undertake a comprehensive and long-term renovation project that was finished this spring.

In total, the Michael Foundation has invested around 2.2 million Euro in the manor home restoration since 2006. The excellent results of the project were the result of cooperation between the state office for historic building preservation, the architectural office Wette from Göttingen, as well as many companies from the surrounding local area. State and federal grants from a program for village renewal as well as the German Foundation for Historical Preservation contributed another 650,000 euros to finance the project. Despite these grants, the Michael Foundation would not have been able to realize this project without the substantial financial and managerial support of the Software AG Foundation. Today the estate continues to provide its residents with an environment that is highly conducive to quality of life and work, and to offer visitors many beautiful sights and perspectives.