History of the House

A Baroque Palace through the ages

The Podewil's current location has endured considerable changes throughout its history. Klosterstrasse is one of the oldest streets in Berlin. We know that at least two buildings existed before that of the Baroque house, as it currently stands. A wattle and daub masonry, built around 1300, was destroyed in a fire. In 1550, a large, two-story block of flats was built upon the foundations of the ruined building's cellar. Towards the end of 17th Century, the site extended to the City Wall, whose remains can still be seen behind the Podewil (between Litten- and Waisenstrasse).

After demolishing the residential building, the privy councillor Caspar Rademacher charged the architect Jean de Bodt with the task of building a palace between 1701 - 1704. Substantial parts of the previous building, among them the medieval cellar vaults, on which the Podewil Palace stands today, were integrated. The history of the Palace has been defined by each of its different owners: after Rademacher's death, it was bought by the 'true, unknown War, Budget and Cabinet Minister' Count Heinrich von Podewil (1695-1760) for 12,000 Taler. The Prussian State Minister was the Secretary of State and a minister within Friedrich II's Cabinet. His two daughters inherited the house in 1749 and the house remained in the hands of the family for a further 12 years, until it was sold at auction along with its valuable furnishings. Before the merchant Löwenherz bought it for 80,000 Taler in 1856, the Palace had been in the hands of the Brendel family (the father was a jeweller and the son a merchant) for 50 years.

The era of the building's private use had come to an end: in 1874 the Magistrate of Berlin acquired the property for 215,000 Taler and on 17th January 1876, the doors of the Märkische Provincial Museum opened its doors to visitors. The museum was expanded in 1880 as the Magistrate planned to centralise numerous departments in the palace (gasworks, water, and sewage works, as well as the central pay office for the civic works). From 1919, the palace was listed at Klosterstraße 68 in the Berlin address book. It documents the building as being used for various public institutions, such as the civic waterworks, the sanitation department, and the Magistrate's military office. The Mitte district office moved into the building in 1923, and from 1939 the house served as the seat of the district mayor. In the last years of the Second World War the building was destroyed by bombing, burning down.In 1951, whilst Berlin was hosting the 3rd World Youth & Student Games, young people began to rebuild the palace. It was then that the Magistrate decided it would be rebuilt as a "House of Youth", and planned to have the region's Committee of Free German Youth (FDJ Land Brandenburg) housed there.

A spacious hall was constructed on the ground floor, and a two-storey hall was also added. It was decided to forego the reconstruction of the extensively damaged side wing. At the FDJ's 8th birthday celebration on 7th May 1954, the Lord Mayor of East-Berlin, Friedrich Ebert, handed over the "Central Clubhouse for Youth" to the "Free German Youth of Germany's Capital", with the wish that it be used for peace. In 1959 the Central Clubhouse joined the Culture- and Sport club in Stalinallee to become the "Central Club for Youth and Athletes in Berlin" and was henceforth called the "House of Young Talents" (HdjT). After an event on 20th February 1966, a fire destroyed the hall and the wooden roof structure above it. Its reopening on 2nd October 1970 marked the beginning of two decades of successful cultural work. The HdjT received particular recognition as the venue where the "Festival of the political song" was organised and took place, as well as for being an important home of GDR-Jazz. Berlin's provincial government decided to close it two years after German reunification.

In October 1991 the recently founded Berlin Culture Events ltd. (BKV) moved into the building. The association was founded as an establishment for the organisation and coordination of cultural exchange projects between Berlin and partners from abroad, and was in charge of the venues "Theater am Halleschen Ufer", "Podewil", and "Schaubude Berlin". The theatre at Halleschen Ufer (now HAU 2) became sponsored by the association in October 2003 upon the opening of the HAU stages. Over the 12 years of its existence, the Podewil centre for contemporary art developed into an internationally recognised address for dance, new music, theatre/performance, and media art.

In 2004 the artistic venue was once more advertised for bids by the then chairman of the BKV supervisory board, Thomas Flierl. Since April 2005 Tesla Berlin inc. has been running the media arts laboratory under the same name. In the same year the Museum Pedagogical Service for Berlin (MD Berlin) moved into the Podewils Palace on the initiative of Berlin's Culture Senate. This was the first step in preparation for a planned fusion with the BKV. The merger between BKV and MD Berlin created the new association Kulturprojekte Berlin GmbH, which started work here in the Podewil on 1st September 2006.