|Avery Drawings & Archives Collections|
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Series I: Project Records
Series II: Family Papers
At a Glance
This material is arranged in four series: Project Records; Family Papers; Restitution Documents; and Restoration/Reuse. Series are further described by subseries; the arrangement of materials within each subseries is described at the beginning of each subseries inventory.
Scope and Content
This collection primarily contains original and reprographic architectural records, photographs, correspondence and personal and professional records related to the design, construction, and ownership of the Haus Cramer in Dahlem, Berlin, Germany, designed by German architect Hermann Muthesius in 1911-1913 for Hans and Gertrud Cramer, with later additions by Muthesius and other architects. A significant portion of the collection also documents the Cramer family's efforts to obtain restitution after World War II for the seizure of the house in the 1930s. Also included are records documenting the restoration and reuse, an effort led by noted architectural historian Julius Poesner.
Using the Collection
Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library
Restrictions on Access
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Columbia University is providing access to the materials in the Library's collections solely for noncommercial educational and research purposes. The unauthorized use, including, but not limited to, publication of the materials without the prior written permission of Columbia University is strictly prohibited. All inquiries regarding permission to publish should be submitted in writing to the Director, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University. In addition to permission from Columbia University, permission of the copyright owner (if not Columbia University) and/or any holder of other rights (such as publicity and/or privacy rights) may also be required for reproduction, publication, distributions, and other uses. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of any item and securing any necessary permissions rests with the persons desiring to publish the item. Columbia University makes no warranties as to the accuracy of the materials or their fitness for a particular purpose.
Haus Cramer architectural records and papers. Located in the Dept. of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.
Lilian M. C. Randall, granddaughter of Hans Cramer, donated the collection to Avery Library, 2004.004.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library
This collection was processed by Teresa Harris, Mellon Fellow, in 2008, under the direction of Annemarie van Roessel, Archivist, Dept. of Drawings & Archives, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library.
2009-06-25 File created.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Hermann Muthesius was born on April 20th, 1861, in Gross-Neuhausen in Thuringia. His father was a master mason who built numerous country churches. A local pastor recommended Muthesius to the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar as a promising candidate for higher education. From 1881-1883, he studied philosophy at Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität (now Humboldt University), before transferring to the Technische Hochschule Berlin where he studied architecture. As a complement to his formal education, Muthesius also learned the trade of masonry from his father during the two and a half years that elapsed between finishing his studies at the local school and heading to Berlin for his secondary education. Muthesius gained practical experience in a number of architectural offices, including that of Paul Wallot, the architect of the Reichstag building. From 1887-1891 he worked for the firm of Ende & Böckmann in Tokyo and from 1893-1894 he worked in the architectural offices of the Prussian government before becoming the editor of the Zentralblatt der Bauverwaltung.
He married Anna Trippenbach, a prominent singer, in 1896. Anna Muthesius shared her husband's interest and in 1903, she published a book on reform clothing, entitled Das Eigenkleid der Frau. Muthesius traveled widely, visiting Japan, China, Thailand, India, Egypt and Italy. However, his sojourn in England proved to have the most lasting effect on his intellectual development and reputation. In 1896, he was appointed technical attaché to the German Ambassador in London. He lived in England from the time of his appointment until 1903, writing reports on railways, gasworks and other industrial installations for the Prussian Board of Trade. He also befriended many leading members of British artistic circles, including Charles Rennie Mackintosh and William Morris. Muthesius was fascinated by recent innovations in English domestic architecture and eventually wrote a three volume study on the topic, entitled Das englische Haus. Using the works of Charles Voysey, William Lethaby and Richard Norman Shaw, among others, Herman Muthesius illustrated the ground-breaking functional planning of the English house. This emphasis on a functional approach to design formed a fundamental underpinning of the Modern movement in Europe.
Upon his return to Germany in 1903, Muthesius put his new ideas into practice, building numerous villas in the suburbs of Berlin, including Haus Cramer, the focus of this collection. Muthesius also helped to found the Deutscher Werkbund, a trade organization heavily influenced by the English Arts & Crafts movement in its desire to bring a higher standard of artistic production to handcrafts and industrial products. Unlike the English movement, however, the Werkbund embraced the machine, and Muthesius would even go so far as to propose the idea of "types" or standardized forms for building, furniture and other industrial products. His ideas caused a rift when he presented them at a July 1914 meeting of the Werkbund, with some members aligning themselves with Muthesius, and other aligning themselves with the more individualistic ideas of Henry van de Velde who opposed standardization. Muthesius's remained influential in German architectural circles until his untimely death in a tram accident in 1927. His other publications include Stilarchitektur und Baukunst  and Kleinhaus und Kleinsiedlung .
Haus Cramer, commissioned by Hans and and Gertrude Cramer, is located at Pacelliallee 18/20 (formerly Cecilienallee 18/20) in Berlin-Dahlem. The collection contains a comprehensive set of drawings dating to the construction of the house in 1911-1914, including drawings of the exteriors, interiors and gardens. During the 1930s, the Cramer family ran into financial trouble due to the oppressive anti-Jewish policies of the Nazi government, which placed numerous restrictions on Jewish businesses. Prior to this, Hans Cramer had run a profitable import/export business dealing mostly in grains. His family was of Jewish descent, although they had converted to Lutheranism at some point during the mid-nineteenth century.
Hans Cramer's daughter, Charlotte, married an American and moved to New York in the early 1930s. At this point, Hans Cramer began shipping some of the family's furniture and art to his daughter. In this same year, due to his inability to pay taxes on the house and property, the city of Berlin seized his house and eventually auctioned off much of the contents. Hans Cramer, his wife Gertrud and son Frederick, followed Charlotte, emigrating to the United States in 1933. After World War II, Hans Cramer waged a long battle to gain restitution from the government of Germany for his lost property. Correspondence between Hans Cramer and his lawyer, Helmut Ruge, forms a large part of the records of the collection. According to the family, the house survived the war only to be destroyed in a gas explosion sometime during the 1950s. Julius Posener, the noted architectural historian, intervened in the 1970s and petitioned the city of Berlin to reconstruct the house for use by Stanford University, which eventually purchased Haus Cramer in 2000 to house their Bing Overseas Studies in Berlin.