LOCATION:     32-34 Main Street, Hahndorf

SHR 10505 – confirmed as a State Heritage Place 24 July 1980

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The fachwerk cottage with 1847 carved over the front door was built by the first European owner, Christian Bartel.  Its half-timbered construction is based on a traditional German building technique called 'fachwerk', which is basically a timber skeleton with infill panels in pug (as in this case), brick or stone.   The stone mortuary next door is attributed to Mr Willemer, a carpenter who also acted as undertaker, a trade he taught his son-in-law Carl Rodert.  This house is the earliest 'fachwerk' construction remaining in Hahndorf and, together with the former mortuary (36 Main Street) and the shared space between, gives an impression of Hahndorf's streetscape in the early years of settlement.

Brief History

Extract from 'Hahndorf - A Journey through the Village and its History', by Anni Luur Fox (2002)

The day after the Hahndorf Sketchbook had been published by Rigby Ltd in 1976, Heini Kaesler appeared with his walking stick in my studio to tell me all the things the book had missed.  His subsequent visits were a mine of information gleaned from years of listening to his wife’s stories.  He told me that Johann Willemer came to live here with his family and that he was a carpenter and cabinet-maker who supplemented his income by preparing the deceased for burial in coffins made especially to fit.

The fachwerk cottage with pug infill between the beams has the date 1847 carved over the door.  This homestead block and several cultivation blocks were originally allotted to the “thresher-gardener” Johann Christian Bartel and his wife Maria Elizabeth who had been passengers on the Zebra with their four children.  It can be assumed that the portion of the cottage closest to the road was built by this family.  A mark of its early German origin is that the front of the cottage is sited at right angles to Main Street, a characteristic shared by a number of others in the village which have been demolished but were recorded by Hans Heysen.  The high pitched roof is another important feature.  According to folklore once a family was under their roof they were safe from demons.  The Bartel family sold their six blocks of land comprising 4.25 acres of land in 1855 and moved to Callington.  The stone carpenter’s shop was built in 1856.

Soon after Mr. Willemer came to live here with his family, he was contracted to do the carpentry work on the new St. Michael’s Lutheran Church building in 1858.  He made the pews while fellow tradesman Johann Ampt made the altar and pulpit still in use today.  Willemer’s daughter married Carl Rodert who followed in his father-in-law’s footsteps.  At one stage the cellar was used as a cool storage place for Rebensberg wines as well as human remains awaiting the ministrations of Mr. Rodert as undertaker.

Rebensberg winery had been established by Eduard Wilhelm Schroeder and his wife Johanne Auguste who came to South Australia in 1850.  In 1889 their son Herman Albert married Johanna Wilhelmina Sophia Temme, a sister to Mary Baumann whose granddaughter became my mother-in-law.  It was Hazel who first told me of the curious cellar mates at Rodert’s Mortuary.  Even though the winery had been successful and had won prizes for its Madeira and Espana wines, the premature death of Albert from a pyemic abcess in 1901 spelled the end of that enterprise.  Left with eight children aged between two months and eleven years, his widow had the vines ripped out.  Their yield had been decreasing due to a combination of oidium, frosts and the hungry birds of the district.  After almost a century, the wine industry in the Adelaide Hills has recently been revived, to the delight of colourful native birds which swoop in as soon as the grapes are ripe.

When Hans Heysen’s son Stefan began using the mortuary as an art gallery in 1949, he found the front room piled high with coffin wood.  Cash ledgers dating to 1847 suggested that the business was initially conducted from the adjacent cottage.  Stefan’s gallery closed in 1953.  Two years passed and Walter Wotzke took an immense gamble when he left his secure job as a sales assistant at Cox Foy’s department store in Adelaide and sank his savings into establishing his art studio at the mortuary.  It grew to become the successful “Hahndorf Gallery” officially opened by Sir Alec Downer in 1956.  When Walter moved his expanding business to the old Lutheran School next to the Hahndorf Academy in 1958, C.F. and B.J. Langbein opened a delicatessen in the building.  Since the late 1970’s the shop and cottage have housed businesses related to the arts and hospitality industries.  During the 1998 Adelaide Festival of Arts, “Bamfurlong” celebrated its 10th anniversary of retailing high quality South Australian crafts at this site.

Reminiscing about her childhood in Hahndorf, the author of the Hahndorf Sketchbook, Lena Wade, described Carl Rodert as being not much taller than a dwarf, clearly a blessing since the doorways of the cottage are extremely low.  Lena told me he shared the cottage with his tiny sister whose half-size brooms made of twigs and her homemade mops hung outside the kitchen door.  The well and pump in the stone-paved yard was the only water supply.  A large vine covered the verandah.

Removal of the Yew hedge in the 1980’s opened the cottage and side garden to public view.  I often wonder if it lives on in another form.  Yew wood was much prized for its elasticity and toughness by cabinet-makers, wood-turners and makers of bows and arrows.  Traditionally, Yew trees were planted in churchyards and their berries used in brewing herbal potions from antiquity believed to cure “water elf disease.”  The oldest Saxon herbal in existence, the Leech Book of Bald dating to the 10th Century, lists Yew berries as an ingredient in medicine from a much earlier time when trolls and goblins were believed to exist in the countryside.

Early Ownership

Information from The Hahndorf Allotments Database by Reg Butler.

Old Lot No. New Lot No. Street No. Street Name
House 38 N.H. 98 34 Main Street
Year Sold New Owner Occupation Owner's Home Personal
1839 Christian Bartel # thresher-gardener Hahndorf From Möstchen, Brandenburg.
1853 Christian Bartel farmer Hahndorf GRO title.
1855 Carl Herberger farmer Hahndorf  
1855 Valentin Hellwig miner & farmer Hahndorf  
1861 Wilhelm Paech farmer Hahndorf LTO title 1861.
1861 Johann Willemer % farmer Hahndorf  

Ida Rodert

wife of Julius Rodert labourer Hahndorf Nee Willemer
1921 Wilhelm Minkwitz agent Hahndorf Executor. I Rodert died 1921.



Hermann Rodert

Bertha Rodert





Son of I Rodert.

Daughter of I Rodert.

1940 Gilbert James carpenter Kent Town  
1948 Stefan Heysen * picture dealer Hahndorf  

Colin Langbein

Betty, his wife


home duties




Nee Kuchel.


  • #  C Bartel shifted to Salem, near Callington, to farm.
  • %  J Willemer was also a cabinetmaker & undertaker in partnership with his son-in-law, Julius Rodert.  The workshop still stands on No 36 Main St; the family home at No 32 Main St.
  • *  Son of artist Sir Hans Heysen.
  • Ownership details are complete to the first Metric title 4115/984.  Sub-division took place after this date.
    • Sub-lot 1:  No 34 Main Street
    • Sub-lot 2:  No 36 Main Street
    • Sub-lot 3:  No 3 Thiele Grove