In 1890, the physician and health official Dr. Christian Ludwig Steenken (1857-1933) commissioned the construction of this Villa. Steenken was closely interconnected with the maritime economy. Indeed, Steenken was a bank director and the head of a maritime shipping line. Additionally, he was the president of the Elsfleth Herring Fishing Society and of the Elsfleth Ship and Shippers´ Society “Concordia”, predecessor of the Nautical Union of Lower Saxony. In 2005, Horst Werner, captain and ship owner from Elsfleth, purchased the beautiful landmark structure, a prime example of the Oldenburg gabled house. He donated it to the “Wesermarsch Civic Trust” with the requirement that it serve as a museum. Since 2010, the “Villa Steenken” is one of the three locations of the Maritime Museum of the Oldenburgian Lower Weser.
According to a good SourceDr. Helmuth Steenken, the son of the former owner, wrote the following lines:
“This house, dear guest, was commissioned to be built by Doctor Christian Ludwig Steenken in 1891 with the, (at the time unusual) assistance of an architect. This man was ahead of his time. For example, he called for the toilet to be located [emphasized] inside the house itself, and that was regarded to be an indecently modern gesture.
The plot had previously belonged to the Jürgen’sche Werft, a shipyard for the construction of sailing vessels. In the new era of industrialized machines there was no longer any demand for such services. Thus, the ground was paved with sand, stakes were rammed into the earth and suddenly the house stood there. The doctor, his wife Nanny and the oldest daughter moved in. Three additional children, two sons and one daughter, were born. The balcony room of the first floor served as the bedroom of the girls, the boys slept in the adjacent room. A fireplace, the symbol of leisure, was located in the living room. In the consulting room, frescoes of the painter Bolte depicted allegories out of the “Dwarf Empire”.
The carriage driver Friedrich Haverkamp and four horses resided in the stable, the horses trotted through the domain of the doctor, servicing patients between Loy and Ohmstedter Moordeich.”
Indeed, Dr. Christian Ludwig Steenken was well known in Elsfleth for his horse-drawn carriage. Dr. Gustav Glüsing, another physician from Elsfleth, rode through the city in an automobile, even before the First World War, whereas Steenken preferred to rely on the more natural form of horse power.
The “Dwarf Empire”Steenken, who was not only a physician, but also the president of the Coastal Canal Association and of the Elsfleth Banking Society and board member of the Elsfleth Herring Fishing Union, let himself be immortalized within his own house. Even today, the “Dwarf Emprie” painting can still be seen. It was painted by Hinrich Bolte, the brother of the captain Gerd Bolte and the son of the ship woner oft he same name.
From a Doctor´s Villa to a MuseumIn 2005, thanks to the initiative of the captain and ship owner Horst Werner Janssen, the way was cleared for the third expansion of the Maritime Museums of the Oldenburgian Lower Weser. The Berlin-based design company Gewerk-Design was closely involved. On the 14th of March 2010, it was inaugurated as the third site of the Maritime Museum, notably in the course of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the museum. The ground floor is dedicated to the ship owners and the fishing industry of the region, with particular attention being given to the history of Elsfleth´s herring fishing fleet. The exhibition area in the first upper deck is dominated by two themes – ship construction and the shipyards of the regions. Further highlights illuminate the field of nautical training, the topic of women aboard and the history of the watchmaking company Wempe.
Experience the Museum
The Maritime Museum‘s "Elsfleth House" 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 Borgstede & Becker" and the Telegraph.
Haus Elsfleth, Weserstraße 14, 26931 Elsfleth
Maritime Museum - "Haus Borgstede & Becker", Breite Straße 9, 269019 Brake
Maritime Museum - Telegraph, Kaje 8, 269019 Brake