Maritime Museum - Haus Borgstede & Becker


The packing house was built in 1808 by the ship broker and the subsequent shipyard owner Hinrich Oltmanns. It served as an interim storage facility of the company “Oltmanns & Seeman”, allowing freight and commercial goods to be temporarily kept until their further transport by ship. On the ground floor, a ship´s chandler store was opened from early on.
As of 1818, the British Vice Consul and an agent of the North German Lloyd, John Saville MacNamara, lived here with his wife, who became entwined with countless legends. Following MacNamars death in 1845, Johann Hinrich Borgstede and Julius Ludwig Becker, two businessmen from Brake, purchased the building, and this became the exclusive property of Becker a year later, remaining in the family until 1979. In 1985, this house, known as “Haus Borgstede & Becker”, became the second site of the Maritime Museum of the Oldenburgian Lower Weser.

A Packing House for “Sollern“

The “Haus Borgstede & Becker“ is a typical packing house of the 19th century. It was built in 1808 and is thus one of the oldest remaining houses in the street Breite Strasse, the current pedestrian zone of Brake. The builder of the house was the ship´s carpenter, ship´s broker and subsequent shipyard owner Hinrich Oltmanns. The storage house was utilized by the company “Oltmanns & Seemann“ for the purpose of “Sollern”, the intermediate storing of goods for Bremen´s merchants up until the further transport of the items with barges or carriages. Additionally, from the outset, the house contained a ship chandlery on the ground floor. The store furnished ships with all kinds of necessary objects, these ranged from equipment and clothing for the crew to provisions for the journey. Furthermore, the chandlery also sold colonial goods such as coffee, tea, chocolate, rice and tobacco, addressing the needs of the citizens of Brake as well. A reconstruction located on the ground floor of the museum depicts a typical scene out of a chandlery of the 19th century.

Consular Station

Shortly after the construction of the house, its history became closely intertwined with Brake´s maritime network. The relatively young city benefitted from the economic boom which occurred as a result of the rising shipping traffic in the area. Although Brake was first mentioned in documents as an independent community (Amt Brake) in 1814, it was already home to the first consulate at the time. The maritime-based economy, and the simultaneously flourishing global trade relations, necessitated the presence of official international representatives in the harbor city of barely 3000 residents. In 1814, the British Vice Consul John (James) Saville MacNamara moved into the "Haus Borgstede & Becker", it served as his residential quarters and workplace.

Mysterious Events

Lady MacNamara
Even though MacNamara was not the only representative of a foreign government in Brake, he was and remains the most well-known. Ironically, this is related to the fact that – apart from his professional involvement – hardly anything is known about him. Repeatedly, the native of England staunchly supported Brake´s interests against those of the Hanseatic City of Bremen. On the other hand, his controversial marriage was the topic of many whispered conversations. Lady MacNamara, his wife, was supposedly a princess of the House Steward who married against the desires of her family.  Moreover, it is mentioned that the two of them were truly in love. That was not necessarily typical of marriages in the 19th century. Although the couple was well-respected, it evidently had financial difficulties. In 1835, MacNamara died under mysterious circumstances on his estate Etzorn near Oldenburg. His wife disappeared completely. A year later, the items left behind by the couple were officially auctioned off. Among the exhibits of the museum is a glass trophy which had apparently been owned by MacNamara.

From a Merchant´s Residence to a Museum

Merchant Becker
In 1845, the merchants Johann Hinrich Borgstede and Julius Ludwig Becker of Brake purchased the packing house. Their portraits can be viewed on the ground floor. Becker was married to Anna Mathilda Borgstede, the sister of Johann Hinrich. Borgstede and Becker had previously managed a well-regarded restaurant together. Johann Hinrich Borgstede died shortly after purchasing the house. Julius Ludwig Becker gained possession of the property, and it remained in family hands until the end of the 1970s. By the way, Julius Ludwig Becker was designated as Consul for Portugal in 1846, and following his death, his son Carl Diedrich served in the same function. Thus, the House Borgstede & Becker continued to be a consular office. Moreover, the businesses of the ships´ broker and agency were carried out on the ground floor of the house. As before, a true mainstay consisted of the chandlery and the store for colonial goods.
In 1979, the packing house was bequeathed by Marianne Lueken, née Becker, to the City of Brake. Since the 15th of March 1985, it has been the second site of the Maritime Museum of the Oldenburgian Lower Weser. Between 2005 and 2007, in connection with a reconceptualization of the permanent exhibition, it was fundamentally restructured. Today, it addresses the history of shipping under Oldenburg´s flag in the 19th century, encompassing trade, cartography, navigation, piloting, school ship training and wooden ship construction. Additionally, it informs visitors as to the history of the first Pan-German Navy and its Commander-in-Chief, Rear Admiral Carl Rudolph Bromme (“Brommy“). Furthermore, the museum has dedicated an entire room to Georg von der Vring, the painter, writer and honorary citizen of Brake.

Experience the Museum

The Maritime Museum‘s "Haus Borgstede & Becker" is open year-round. Opening times are structured as follows: 1 April - 31 October
Tuesday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

1 November - 31 March
Tuesday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Sundays and holidays: 10 a.m. – 5. p.m.
Monday: closing day

Opening hours may vary on and directly after holidays. They are also valid for "Haus Elsfleth" and the Telegraph.
Maritime Museum - "Haus Borgstede & Becker", Breite Straße 9, 269019 Brake
Maritime Museum - Telegraph, Kaje 8, 269019 Brake
Maritime Museum - "Haus Elsfleth", Weserstraße 14, 26931 Elsfleth

Karte der Stationen