|History of the Luther House’s architecture|
‘Black monastery’, ‘rear building of the Augusteum', ‘Luther Hall’, and finally ‘Luther House’: the Wittenberg Luther House’s various names recall its chequered, 500-year history of ever-changing forms and functions. The construction of the main building, known as the 'Black monastery', was begun in 1504. Aside from insignificant differences, its dimensions were the same as those of today’s Luther House. Its name refers to the colour of the habits of the Augustinian monks. In 1508, Luther himself began to live here as a monk. The monastery was dissolved in the course of the Reformation and Luther remained here alone; beginning in 1525, he lived here with his wife and later with his children as well. Ownership of the house was transferred to him in 1532. The Luthers’ use of the building as a family home necessitated extensive alterations and additions. Katharina von Bora gave her husband the ‘Katharinenportal’ (Catherine’s door) for his fifty-seventh birthday.
The university took possession of the building after Luther's death and converted it into a hall of residence for the recipients of scholarships from the electors. The west wing and the front building were built in the middle of the 1580s. The front house faces the street and was named the 'Augusteum', in honour of August I, Elector of Saxony, who was an important patron of the university.
Friedrich August Stüler was commissioned to restore the building in 1844. Over the course of four decades, the house was extensively renovated according to his plans. From 1834 to 1937, a Luther school was located in the ground floor of the west wing. In 1883, several rooms in the first storey, including the Luther hall, were opened to the public as a museum for the history of the Reformation; the institution was known as the ‘Luther Hall’. Since 1911, more and more of the building’s space has gradually been devoted to the work of the museum. Extensive work was carried out on the museum in 1983, on the occasion of its 100th anniversary and the 500th anniversary of Luther's birth.
The most recent work on the Luther House was done in 2001-02: it was completely modernised and a new building was added, which houses the entrance area (architects: Pitz & Hoh, Berlin). On the one hand, the construction project exhibits a respectful relationship to the world heritage site; on the one hand, its modern forms demonstrate a confident willingness to further history’s progress. The annex received the Architectural Prize of the State of Saxony-Anhalt in 2004.
While the building was being altered and the permanent exhibition reorganised, the name of the museum was changed from the ambiguous ‘Luther Hall’ to ‘Luther House’. This name better expresses the true focus of this unique place: the man Martin Luther and his work. Both would be inconceivable without this house.