Haus Wittelsbach Celebrates Anniversary, Completion of Renovation and Expansion Measures

Inter-European Division

Haus Wittelsbach Celebrates Anniversary, Completion of Renovation and Expansion Measures

The Adventist retirement home, a community pillar for 70 years, experiences tangible improvements through the €20 million project

Human Interest | Germany | Bad Aibling

On September 16–17, 2023, Haus Wittelsbach, an Adventist retirement home in Bad Aibling, Germany, celebrated both its 70th anniversary and the completion of five years of renovation and expansion under the motto "One Day—One Place—Three Open Doors." In his greeting, director Dr. Thomas spoke of the "flagship and jewel for the town."

A weekend with a festive ceremony/service and an open house period attracted many visitors to the grounds of the senior citizens' home, which is run by the Advent Welfare Organization (AWW, the social work branch of the Seventh-day Adventist Church). The church hall of the Adventist congregation, located on the premises, was filled to capacity on Sabbath afternoon for the anniversary service. Many other activities took place until late Sunday evening.

History

Haus Wittelsbach has borne its name for over 150 years. This goes back to a "gentleman's agreement" between the incumbent and previous owners, when the building was sold in 1920, says Andreas Heuck, home director, in his historical review. In 1873, entrepreneur Josef Pentenrieder had named the completed building "Chur-Haus-Wittelsbach" in honor of the Bavarian royal family. Later, the German Adventist Association for Health Care (DVG) acquired the house. This association had already established two health centers in the north with a sanatorium in Friedensau, near Magdeburg, and a hospital in Berlin.

Until 1922, Haus Wittelsbach served as a spa and bathing facility. This was followed by a school for lay missionaries and a training center for pastors until 1925. After that, until 1941, the focus was once again on the spa and baths. During World War II, until 1945, the house served as a military hospital. From 1945–1946, it was in the hands of the American occupying forces. After that, it was confiscated and used as a state refugee camp until 1952.

As there were great shortages during these years, the building was returned to the DVG in an increasingly neglected, largely unusable condition. After extensive renovation work in 1952 and 1953, the building was reopened on October 3 with a mixture of senior citizens’ home operations and Kurheim (“Sanitarium”) in the main building. The health resort continued to operate until 1960; then Haus Wittelsbach altogether became a retirement home in 1961.

Extensive Structural Changes

"Renovation is a tradition" was how one of the many speakers described the extensive structural changes at Haus Wittelsbach. At the beginning of the 1960s, the house no longer met the new legal requirements. Corridors were too narrow, rooms were too small, and lifts (i.e., elevators) were missing. House C was built and inaugurated in 1965. The original House D, the "old barracks," gave way to a new building in 1966, which has since served as the Adventist church building.

In 1969, a new middle building, House M, was added. This gave the house a modern central kitchen, a bright dining hall, and a total of 180 places to live. In 1982, House M was extended to include House A. In 1987, House B was added, and in 1992, a new House D was built. The 93-year-old former director of the home, Helmut Haubeil (1984–1994), gave an impressive account of this period. At times, the residential capacity of the home in those years was 200.

At the festive service to mark the completion of the most recent construction phase, many of those involved in the building process had their say and shared their experiences. Pastor Werner Dullinger, president of the South German Union and copartner with the AWW Haus Wittelsbach Senioren-und Pflegeheim Co., reported on the first correspondence regarding the previous construction and conversion process, which had already taken place in November 2013.

The original project budget was €12 million (approx. US$14.2 million in 2018), which increased to around €20 million due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Ukraine conflict, and unforeseen yet necessary planning changes. In 2018, the go-ahead was given for the first construction phase.

Architect Thomas Otte, from Bielefeld, spoke of a "beautiful house" in his report. The first design presentation took place in 2016. The aim was to "create a building ensemble as a coherent unit." During the construction phase, there were naturally many changes and adjustments. However, Otte particularly praised the spirit of cooperation, which he had greatly appreciated. Today, Haus Wittelsbach houses 36 high-quality flats for assisted living and 118 residential places for inpatient care, as well as staff flats.

One Day—One Place—Three Open Doors

The motto of the celebration weekend reflects the campus concept of the senior citizens' home. In addition to the retirement home, a community center and a children's house have been built in recent years. Thus, Volkmar Proschwitz, executive chairman of AWW and main shareholder of Haus Wittelsbach, promoted the campus concept and cordially invited visitors to enter the open doors during the weekend and take advantage of the numerous offers. These included insights into everyday life at the home with guided tours of the nursing area, information on the subject of nursing and assisted living, a tour of the new premises, and gymnastics for senior citizens. The kitchen of Haus Wittelsbach took care of the physical well-being with lunch and a cake buffet.

A rich culinary offer from the kitchen accompanied the entire weekend. With artfully prepared cannapés, vegan dips, and both light and hearty dishes, there was something for every visitor. Again and again, the kitchen was praised during the festivities. During the entire construction phase, the kitchen "always provided everyone with good and plentiful food."

Values Created

In the many words of thanks during the weekend, the spiritual orientation of the retirement home was highlighted again and again. Many Bible texts were quoted, and the Christian values behind them were emphasized. Pastor Dullinger took this year's annual church motto from the Abraham-Hagar story ("You are the God who sees me"—Genesis 16:13, NIV) as an opportunity to point out that God sees and accompanies this home and its people. He thanked God for the guidance, accompaniment, and especially protection during the long construction phase. No one had come to harm. Other speakers also expressed gratitude to the patient residents who had endured noise and inconvenience for a long time. Frauke Weiß had always experienced "happy and satisfied residents." General contractor {First name?} Huber encouraged everyone with the words, "Keep this harmonious togetherness and action!"

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-European Division German-language news site.