The monument ensemble Wassermühle Karoxbostel is a cultural historic jewel in the Hamburg metropolitan region. It consists of the main building dated 1817, the watermill (1893), the sawmill (1900) and the nonlisted bakehouse and the former pigsty. At the end of 2011 nearly all buildings were a little more than ruins. At the beginning of 2012 88 women and men founded the “Verein Wassermühle Karoxbostel e.V.”, a registered association, with the ambition to restore the crumbling buildings and transform the historic ensemble into a lively place of encounter and convivial meeting. Today this is reality. People of all age, some of them handicapped, meet to learn, celebrate and enjoy various events of culture and natural history.
In 2016 our mill association was awarded the “State Prize for Preservation of historical Monuments of the Savings Banks Foundation Lower Saxony”. In September 2017 it was recognized by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs Lower Saxony as a “Place of extracurricular Learning in Education for sustainable Development.” The Karoxbostel watermill is located in Seevetal, Lower Saxony. Its first authentic mention of the Karoxbostel farm was in 1366. From 2012 to 2017 members of the Karoxbostel Mill Association, restored the severely derelicted estate. The monument ensemble Watermill Karoxbostel, located on a site of 2,5 hectare consists of the thatched main building, dated 1817 and erected as a traditional farmhouse, the three-storey watermill, dated 1893 and the sawmill dated 1900. The main building with its oak tree stands and the attached watermill are publicly listed as protected monuments according to § 3, Abs. 2, NDSchG. and §3, Abs. 3, NDSchG., Niedersächsischen Denkmalschutzgesetz (Lower Saxony Monument Protection Act from 1978). The first documentary mentioning of the Karoxbostel Watermill was in 1438.
The mill, until freedom of trade was introduced in 1869, was a compulsory mill. Like the watermill and the farmhouse the sawmill is a protected monument according to § 3, Abs. 2, NDSchG. and §3, Abs. 3, NDSchG., Niedersächsischen Denkmalschutzgesetz (Lower Saxony Monument Protection Act from 1978) The monument protection also covers the three mill ponds, the mill weir and the water outflow. Furthermore the bake house and the pigsty, dated 1920, are part of the monument ensemble, although they are not monument protected. The last major alterations at the main building go back to the year of 1895, when a wall of the cow stable was renewed and a basement was built. Apart from this, no alterations of the buildings have been made.
First documentary mention of the farm reaches back to 1366, of the watermill to 1438. Since 1783 the mill was worked by the Meyer-Denecke family. August-Wilhelm Denecke, last representative of the miller’s dynasty, passed away on December 1st, 2011. He left no direct heirs.
Dr. Klaus Püttmann, Head Conservator of the state authority for the preservation of monuments, Lower Saxony, assessed for the “German Foundation for Monument Protection” the value of the “historical treasure” in a written statement as follows: “The ensemble is in a bad state of repair, but in a historically minimally changed condition. During the years only minor alterations have been made, so that its state represents the time at the beginning of the 20th. century.
The historical architectural development, the history of the region and technology as well as folkloristic views yield a distinct significance, so that the preservation is of particular public importance. Due to the bad state of repair, and, according to modern standards its solely unprofitable building layout, the property presents itself as obviously uneconomic. Therefore it is a positive turnaround that through the engagement of the mill society as new owner the risk of demolition was averted. Experiences so far show the mill society striving for a high level of monument related expertise, and the coordination with the monument protection authority is ensured. Furthermore, they show that the mill society has the high resilience and creativity to carry out the unavoidably very extensive project and perform it successfully.
To carry out the total project, the mill society is reliant on financial support. Therefore a participation of the Deutsche Stiftung Denkmalschutz (German Foundation for Monument Protection) - DSD - is recommended. The high standard of professionalism of the project, the outstanding voluntary involvement of the engaged people and last but not least the widely positive echo from public and media would in our point of view qualify this project for DSD support.