The Workers‘ Housing Estate Steinbreite

Two-family house of Heinrich Böker, Steinbreite 6, built in 1910; constructor: August Knop, Photo of the construction drawing: Mr. & Mrs. Hille

Housing construction by the two glass companies was essential for the growth of the glass industry in Boffzen. The first dwellings for the workers were built in the immediate neighbourhood of the factories. These were individual houses and not a planned, complete housing estate. However, this changed after the turn of the century. From 1906 onwards Noelle & von Campe started to build a housing estate consisting of 15 workers‘ houses on the Steinbreite on land previously used for agriculture which Noelle & von Campe had been able to buy.
The apartments in these houses were larger and of a higher standard than the houses in the village centre of Boffzen and the earlier four-family dwellings of the glass factory. These were houses both for single or even more families. They all had their own gardens and adjoining stables. A limited self-sufficiency regarding food supplies constituted a certain buffer in times of crises and also allowed the company to pay somewhat lower wages.

Photo of Friedrich Loges‘ house (built 1906/07) taken on the Silver Wedding Anniversary of Anna Loges (nee Kleine) and Friedrich Loges senior in 1930 in front of their house, Steinbreite 3 (l.). Photo: Carsten Stender; A typical house for several families, Steinbreite 2 from 1910, built by Heinrich Riefkuhle and Ernst Kleine. Anna and Heinrich Riefkuhle can be seen with their two children, Anna and Heinrich. Photo: Inge Prenzel

In 1919, the workers‘ council of Noelle & von Campe commented: “The workers in Boffzen are forced to do a bit of farming in their spare time due to their local piecework wages. After the daily work was over, the leased land and the meadows had to be worked in order to exist“. In fact, the housing estate Steinbreite was a model project. The blueprint of the colony showed ideas of the architect Karl Siebold (1854-1937) who was known for his church buildings and hospitals belonging to Bethel in Bielefeld. The factory owner Max Eugen Noelle distributed Siebold’s leaflet from 1906 to his workers entitled „A Contribution towards Solving the Problem of Small Housing“. For Noelle, an ardent supporter of a practical protestant faith, housing for workers was not only an entrepreneurial obligation, but also a contribution towards the social integration of the working class into society.

Aerial photo of the Steinbreite housing estate (upper right) taken before 1917. Photo: Burckhard von Campe