In the 1860s seven men from Schönau and Schoenberg who held responsible positions established the "The Belchen Committee". They were firmly convinced of the attraction of the Belchen as a hiking destination. The driving force behind the group was the chief official Adolf Ostner. The goals of the committee were to build a rest house on the Belchen and to develop the Belchen as a tourist destination.
Construction on the first mountain shelter on the Belchen began in 1866. In 1867 the Belchenhaus set up and opened at Peter and Paul. The design for the rest house was created by building inspector Homberger from Lörrach. The building itself was designed by the architect Schneider in Freiburg, the company Schäuble from Schönau and the master mason Paul Wetzel. The construction costs were initially estimated at 1,800 fl (guilder), but were exceeded significantly because of the laborious material transport. The money had been supplied by the surrounding communities, the Black Forest Association and the Swiss Alpine Club (Basle section). The house was leased the following year - in 1868 - by the publican Johann Spörndle. From mid-May to mid-October 1868 more than 600 guests had already visited.
As early as 1871, more than 1,000 hikers had stopped for a rest at the inn Gasthof Belchen. In 1875, the bronze orientation board was ceremoniously placed on the summit. Thanks to the support of the Black Forest Association the Belchen soon become increasingly popular. The Belchen chronicle registered visits by presidents of the Association Gena.D. Friedrich von Bokh, (in office 1872-81) and Privy Councilor Dr. Wilhelm Bethaghel (in office 1881-1896) The endeavor of the Belchen comittee to build a rest house at 1362 m altitude proved to be correct. In 1874 a riding trail from Heubronn to the Belchen was officially opened and in 1876 officers of the Prussian military staff arrived to measure the Alsace. More than 1,500 visitors were recorded in 1880. On 20 May 1880 Grand Duke Friedrich I (1826-1907) of Baden and his wife, Luise Princess of Preusen (1838-1923) had been guests at the house. On 5 October 1890, the younger generation of the Baden dynasty, the young Archduke Friedrich II (1857-1928) and his wife Hilda nee von Nassau (1864-1925) stopped off at the Belchen.
In 1883, the Belchenhaus has been enlarged by an extension. In 1892, after twenty-five years as the innkeeper, Johann Spörndle terminated the lease of the Belchenhaus. The reason for this was a terrible murder. On the evening of 18 August 1892 the tourist Nikolas Ott had been attacked on the Belchen. He died of his injuries. The murderer, a journeyman butcher, was arrested. The following year (1893), a native of Gißhübel (Obermünstertal), Josef Stiefvater took over the house. On 1 February 1897 he acquired the property for 5000 gold marks. As part of the purchase agreement, he had to undertake the construction of a permanent road on the Belchen at his own expense'. Mr. Stiefvater upgraded the Belchenhaus to a guest house offering overnight accommodation. By 1898 Joseph Stiefvater had already completed the new building. Now it boasted 25 rooms with 35 beds and a hall for 150 people. In 1900 already more than 5000 guests had been on the Belchen. The Belchenhaus was now established.
Around the turn of the century the Belchenhaus was at its best. It consisted of an old building (right) and the new massive stone building (left). Many guests came for short trips and stayed for several days. Business was good, and Joseph Stiefvater (1864-1941) and Anna Stiefvater, nee Schätzle, (1864-1942) from Elzach, who had married in May 1890, were satisfied with the course of events.
On 6 November 1904 Josef Stiefvater fulfilled the promise he had given when he had purchased the house: With great public support the first Belchen road was opened. It had been built with the assistance of the Forestry Administration. The head of the forestry district Schönau, Adolf Dieslin, was responsible for the planning. The road followed the "ideal line". Therefore, even today its course is almost unchanged. By now the inn Belchenhaus (with farm buildings) consisted of four buildings and offered accommodation to many hikers. In 1905 a large gathering in honor of the President of the Baden Black Forest Association (1896-1905), Prof.Dr.L. Neumann took place on the Belchen. The representatives of the Belchen committee and numerous guests from many cities in the immediate and wider region had gathered.
On 14 October 1906 the 50th anniversary of the climb up the Belchen by the manufacturer Phillip Sonntag from Waldkirch was celebrated. The following menu was served: caviar rolls, Neapolitan soup, trout au bleu, young partridges, pork shoulder, foie gras, roast hare, Prince Pueckler ice-cream. An additional dessert was also offered.
In 1909, Josef Stiefvater bought an old farmhouse (now Hotel Belchen-Multen) in the lower Multen. He developed it into an inn. The property was four kilometers from the Belchenhaus, at the bottom of the Belchen road. In Multen (municipality Aitern) the family now had their winter shelter, as from November to March the Belchenhaus was closed. Only from winter 1928/29 onwards was the hotel Belchenhaus open year-round. In 1912 Multen consisted of fourteen houses.
In the period before the First World War the Belchen tourismus was at its peak. Annually over fourteen thousand visitors were recorded. The Belchen rest house was the destination of many hiking and hunting groups. In the years 1912 and 1913 "Bismark celebrations" were held at the summit. One of the initiators was the Staufen bailiff Arnsberg.
Because of its 360 degree view, the summit was an important location for land surveying. Around the turn of the century an animal pasture, a flagpole, a trigonometric point, several boundary markers from 1799 and the overview board with its tabular form, designed and cast from metal, could all be found at the top of the plateau.
The First World War was also an important event for the innkeepers of the Belchenhaus. A few months after the wedding of their daughter Maria with the hotel owner Haaf from Haslach the country mobilized in early August 1914. Foreign hikers were now only seen very occasionally. Only about 3,800 visitors were recorded in 1915. The sound of the artillery canons could be easily heard up here. The son Franz Stiefvater was drafted into the military - he fell on 15 July 1918 in Chateau-Thyri. Soon after the war, life again returned to some sort of normality: Daughter Berta married Emil Herr from Ettenheim in 1919, in 1920, the wedding of daughter Klara and the Savings Bank Director Alois Ritz from Zell took place in Wiesental.
The original rest house building of 1866/1883 was demolished in 1927. In its place, the middle (three-storey) building was rebuilt. For the innkeepers it had become an urgent need to modernize the inn to meet the demands of the times. A central heating system with running hot and cold water was installed. Also, now considerably more rooms were available. New guest rooms were built, as well as a small dining room and two additional rooms. Before the First World War, water supply with a hydraulic ram system had already been installed. In addition, a power station was established in Multen. With these measures the standard of the water, light and power supply of the Belchen hotel was at the cutting edge of technology at the end of the 1920s.
In 1933 Josef Stiefvater could celebrate forty years as Belchen innkeeper. With the active participation of friends and family, a big party was held. In 1938, he was awarded the Golden Cross of Honor of the imperial post because of his faithful service. Stiefvater had led the post auxiliary point Belchen without interruption since 1893. Other people also celebrated significant anniversaries in relation to the Belchen. August Strohmeier (1876-1945), a master painter from Muellheim hiked up the Belchen 150 times, the Krozing land owner Julius Hauser celebrated the 128th Belchen ascent on 28 September 1926.
From September 1939 to 1941 an "officer observation post" was stationed up here. In 1941 Josef Stiefvater died at the age of 77 years. His wife Anna survived him by only one year. The inn was then taken over by the daughter Klara Ritz. Klara Ritz led the Belchenhaus safely through the war and postwar years of the Second World War. In 1951 the house was renovated again and structurally expanded. After the death of Klara Ritz in 1963, her son Heinz Ritz and his wife Rita took up the mantle of the Belchen innkeeper. Three years later, the Belchenhaus celebrated its 100th Birthday. In 1976/77 and Rita and Heinz Ritz died childless.
Shortly before their deaths, the Belchen innkeepers Ritz, both sick and without successors, had sold the hotel to the married couple Wissler. The Wisslers were owners of the well known hotel Wiedener Eck. The Belchenhaus was thoroughly renovated from 1977-1981. Hotel Belchenhaus was now run by the daughter Andrea Stahl (born Wissler) and her husband Hans.
In 1991 the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg introduced traffic calming measures. In the course of this, the Belchenhaus was purchased by the State of Baden-Württemberg. The Stahl family was the lessee of the house after the sale of the property until 1998. In 1996, the former company Belchen Ski Lift GmbH (Managing Director Klaus-Peter Rudiger) introduced the project Belchen cableway with the ultimate aim of "car-free mobility" to the Belchen to the broad public. The project was well received and was realized in 2001. In 1998, the innkeepers Andrea and Hans Stahl terminated their lease. As of November 1998, the former Belchen Ski Lift GmbH (today Belchenhaus GmbH) leased the Belchenhaus from the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg. In 2001, the State of Baden-Württemberg wanted to sell the Belchenhaus and after a public tender, the Belchenhaus was offered on the market. As no buyer was found at the time, the Belchenhaus GmbH bought the Belchenhaus. From 1990 onwards, the Belchenhaus has only been a day restaurant. For fire security reasons, overnight stays were no longer permitted. The Belchenhaus requires a lot of ongoing maintenance. The Belchenhaus GmbH would like to modernize the Belchenhaus and establish it once more as a facility offering overnight accommodation with a day restaurant which satisfies current modern requirements. Early in 2013 the outline building application received a positive response.
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