Ruettenscheid. The Essen Beguinage in Rüttenscheid is 15 years old. The residents invite all interested parties to get to know the project better.
When the first newcomers, Susanne Trappe and Renate Schröer, moved to Goethestraße in November 2007, there was not running water everywhere, some apartment doors could not be locked and the end of the construction site was far from in sight. The two women still live here today, and a lot has happened since the change from the southern tax office to the beguinage. On August 13, the special Essen housing project celebrates its 15th anniversary.
Ulrike Friebel and Ilse Timmer were also among the first residents. They moved into their apartment on the ground floor in December 2007 – “after a long period of worrying whether the craftsmen who had made themselves comfortable in our apartment would finally be out,” as Ulrike Friebel explains. In a special operation by the Beguine community, the women scraped off the five-layer wallpaper of the former caretaker’s apartment.
Beguinage Essen: 24 apartments and 14 apartments for women
Over the next few months, more women moved into the house, and 24 apartments and 14 apartments for assisted living were created where the tax office for the south of the city had previously been, which the Prussian tax authorities had set up there in 1927. At the request of the women, the investor had colorful balconies attached to the almost intimidating, austere architecture in order to bring color and a feel-good factor into the house. An event hall was created, a common living room, a fairy tale room, a room of silence.
Many of the first residents still live in the farm, some are new, the youngest resident is eight years old, the oldest 97 years old. The fact that this housing project – a house with and for women, in which men are welcome but not allowed to live – was implemented at all, goes back to the initiative of Waltraud Pohlen and Ute Hüfken, who spent twelve years persuading and looking for the right property .
The beguines emerged as an alternative form of religious community for women in the 13th century. Today, spirituality still plays a major role, but not every woman in the house is a believer. Rather, the focus is on community, togetherness, in which many find deep support and close friendship.
Essen’s Beguinage has long been more than a housing project for women
The Beguinage has long been more than a housing project for women, it is an open house in the district, on the border between Rüttenscheid and Holsterhausen, for cultural offerings and courses, for neighborhood meetings and small commercial units. In 2012 the house was taken over by Allbau GmbH, with their support the Machwatt opened in 2014 as a meeting place. In 2017, as part of the Green Capital, a bench was set up on the forecourt that rarely remains empty. When the Corona measures forced people into their apartments, the beguines sang on their balconies – and the neighborhood joined in.
Ulrike Friebel, Waltraud Pohlen, Friedegard Goosses, Renate Schröer, Barbara Feldhordt and Mawena Wennemann live in the Essen Beguinage.
Photo: Socrates Tassos / FUNKE Photo Services
In 2017, the residents of the Essen Beguinage received the commitment award from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, followed in 2021 by the German Neighborhood Award, and the following year by winning the AOK Healthy Neighborhood Competition.
The women wanted to use the prize money to do good, give away a little happiness. In February, for example, they organized the Glückstag for the first time and, with the support of numerous cultural institutions in Essen, gave women who are unable to satisfy their thirst for culture from their own resources admission tickets to concerts, theater plays and vaudeville performances. The next lucky day at Machwatt is already being planned and will take place on November 12th.
The author lives with her two children in the Beguinage.
Knowing what’s happening in Essen every day: Here for free WAZ food-Sign up for newsletter!
More articles from this category can be found here: Essen