Villa von der Heydt

The Villa von der Heydt has had a lively history: Originally the private residence of the Prussian Minister of Commerce, it was later used as an illegal gambling club and for the manufacture of candies. Since 1980 it has been the headquarters of the president of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz.

From Private Residence of the Prussian Minister of Commerce to Illegal Gambling Club

This building on the southern edge of the Tiergarten was designed by the architect Hermann August Ende and built between 1860 and 1862 for August Freiherr von der Heydt. His garden was designed by Peter Josef Lenné. Von der Heydt was a banker and then Prussian Minister of Commerce and Minister of Finance. King Wilhelm I attended the opening of the house.

When August von der Heydt died in 1874, his son Eduard inherited the house. Initially, he occupied it himself. From 1878 to 1890, he rented to the building to the first Chinese ambassador to the German emperor. From 1890 onward, the famous Berlin banker and art collector Karl von der Heydt, the grandnephew of the original owner, lived in the house with his family. He hosted balls that were attended by the aristocrats and upper classes of Berlin. Writers and artists often visited as well, such as Rainer Maria Rilke and Georg Kolbe. At the time, there were many other stately private homes in the neighborhood south of the Tiergarten. In 1918 Karl von der Heydt decided to sell the villa.

The house was purchased by the Allgemeiner Deutscher Sportverein. It was a front for an illegal gambling club, which was closed down by a raid in 1933.

The Deutsches Reich Acquires the Building

After the villa became the property of the Bayerische Vereinsbank in 1937–38, it was purchased by the Deutsche Reich in 1939. Hans Heinrich Lammers, who as Minister of the Reich and head of the Chancellery of the Reich, was one of Adolf Hitler’s closest collaborators, used the building as his official residence.

The house was severely damaged in an air raid in November 1944. Only the basement and the outer walls remained. A candy factory moved into the surviving rooms temporarily. When the Federal Republic was founded, the house became the property of the government. It was registered as a historical landmark.

The Seat of the President of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz since 1980

In 1970 the Foundation Board of the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation) decided to make the Villa von der Heydt the new administrative headquarters of the president. In the mid-1970s the Bundesbaudirektion (Federal Building Administration) began restoring the building. In March 1980 the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz moved in. Previously, the president and part of the Central Administration had been located in Dahlem, with the remainder in the Bendlerblock in the Tiergarten District. Since 1980 the house is the seat of the president and parts of the Foundation’s Central Administration that report to him.