Impressions of the Black House
In 1932, the editor and poet Hanns Heinen (1895-1961) and his wife Erna Heinen-Steinhoff (1898-1969) bought a historic property consisting of two half-timbered houses in the Höscheid district of Solingen, on the old army road to Cologne, for 3000 gold marks. The houses were popularly known as the "Red House" and the "Black House". These names probably stemmed from the fact that the larger of the two houses was completely clad in black slate and, due to its exposed position on the crest of a ridge, was already perceived from afar as a large black block; in contrast to this, a smaller building in the immediate vicinity, consisting of red brick and half-timbering, formed a bright red dot in the otherwise very green landscape.
The buildings were an important industrial heritage, documenting the mining history of the Bergisches Land in a unique way. The "Black House" - a half-timbered building from the 18th century with an extension from the 19th century - was built as the so-called "Steigerhaus" of a lead mine. It has - untypical for half-timbered houses in this region - large rooms. The so-called "Red House" was built in the 19th century as a workshop for a knife or scissors sharpener. On the side of the "Black House" facing away from the street, there is a pavement of bricks with an embedded drainage channel - probably the remains of a horse stable, there are two horse troughs - carved from large monoliths.
When Hanns Heinen acquired the property, the previous owner told him from the traditions of his family - there is no written evidence of this - that after the end of its function as the lead mine's pit foreman's house, the house was converted into a hostel / inn because of its favourable location on one of the most important trade routes in the region. The paving on the back and the large horse troughs could indicate this. The statement by the previous owner that the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte stayed in the "Black House" cannot be substantiated and is therefore highly questionable. At a later time, the house is said to have served as an outpost of the Höhscheid mayor's office.
From 1932, the regular artistic and literary salon of the Heinen family was held here.When the painter Erwin Bowien (1899-1972), who had returned from exile, moved in - in 1945 - the history of the house as an artists' colony began.
Historical map from 1846 showing the buildings of the later Artists' Colony at that time. The "Black House" is listed as the main house with the outbuildings of the time.