108 metres of art, culture and gastronomy. Böttcherstrasse was designed as a tourist attraction from the very start, and even today there is a lively bustle in the streets. Creative shops and exhibition spaces combine artistic and handicraft self-fulfilment. It is hard to believe that this basic philosophy has remained unchanged for more than 100 years.
Barrels were the containers of the Middle Ages. No wonder that well into the 19th century the so-called “Böttcherhandwerk” craftsmanship (Böttcher being the word for barrelmaker) was booming. The production and sale of barrels turned clever merchants and eager craftsmen into wealthy men, and no place was more suitable for all this striving ambition than the road that connected the market square and the water, Böttcherstrasse. While the craft gradually faded with the advance of industrialisation, the name of the street survived. Right up until the present day.
At the beginning of the 1900s, the state of Bremen’s Böttcherstrasse was so abysmal that the city wanted to demolish the entire area and replace it with government buildings. This is where Ludwig Roselius entered the scene – a successful businessman who had created a global corporation with clever advertising and his innovation, caffeine-free coffee, his “Kaffee HAG”. The two lady owners of Böttcherstrasse 6 (today known as “Roselius House”) approached the businessman in 1902 and asked him to buy the house, “so that the Eisen-Finke iron company cannot put their rusty old poles here too”. Perhaps an absurd request to begin with, but one which nevertheless set an unimaginably big ball rolling. Because certainly from today’s perspective, these two ladies had unknowingly found the best possible buyer in Roselius. For this collector and connoisseur of all things art, archaeology and culture, the street was the key to fulfilling his personal vision: a sensational synthesis of the arts, realised through modern architecture and traditional craftsmanship.
From 1909, Böttcherstrasse 6 became the “hub” for his work in Böttcherstrasse. His doors were open to merchants, artists, architects and writers within the “Lower Saxony Round Table of 1900” and his dream gradually took shape over the years leading up to 1931. Collaborating with the three architects Eduard Scotland, Alfred Runge and Bernhard Hoetger, a good friend and sculptor, he realised his idea of a cultural departure into the modern age piece by piece. Since the Hanseatic city of Bremen was one of the first points of contact for visitors from overseas, Böttcherstrasse was designed from the outset as a tourist attraction, as a “city within the city”. Visitors to Böttcherstrasse not only saw something with a sense of home, but were also confronted with highly individual and artistic architecture.
Ludwig Roselius died in Berlin in 1943, and a short time later his life’s work fell victim to Allied bombs. What could have been a major loss to German art became one of the most important private reconstruction achievements of post-war Germany, above all because of the passionate commitment of Ludwig Roselius’ daughter Hildegard. By 1954, after almost ten years of work, all the façades had been restored. In the Bremen of the 50s and 60s, Böttcherstrasse quickly established a reputation as a street of culture and Bremen’s secluded high street. Surrounded by high-quality retailers and tasteful restaurants, artists and cultural tourists have found an attractive place to visit here. Since damage to the building structure was once again becoming noticeable from the 70s onwards, Sparkasse Bremen acquired Böttcherstrasse in 1988, and by 1999 a course of renovations had restored it, as far as possible, once again to its original pre-war splendour. Since 2003, Böttcherstrasse has been owned by the Bremer Sparer-Dank Foundation, which still today preserves and promotes its basic original idea, the combination of art and craft. On the one hand, cultural events, art exhibitions and two museums inspire citizens of Bremen and tourists alike; on the other hand, the street still offers showrooms for quality craftsmanship.