According to the date over the main entrance and on the threshing room portal base, this big farmhouse was built in 1675. It stood in the centre of the village of Therwil in the Canton of Basel and belonged to a farm with extensive landholdings. The house is an example of the reconstruction that followed the devastation of the Thirty Years War, to which Therwil also fell victim.
It cannot be clearly established who built this mag-nificent house although the records show that, around 1700, the property was owned by a Johann Gutzwiler. There are a number of clues to suggest that he was identical with the builder. In any case, he and the generations of owners who came after him were among the more prosperous citizens of Therwil. This farmhouse was larger and also better constructed and furnished than the other buildings of the village. Illustrations from the 17th and 18th century show that, at that time, most farmhouses in Therwil were built of wood and had thatched roofs.
The living quarters of this multi-purpose house are built of stone, while the work area of the building is a timber frame construction. Little mortar has been used in the walls, which are correspondingly massive. The main facade contains many components hewn from stone such as arches, lintels and mullions. The ornamentation still relies on the rural late Gothic style.
The interior of this large farmhouse must also have had an imposing appearance, but few traces of its 17th century splendour now remain.
The internal division of the living quarters has been largely preserved. The house is entered through a passage which gives access to the parlour and kitchen. There is a smaller room to the side of the kitchen. The plank walls lining the rooms on the upper floors give them an old-fashioned appearance. The imposing ribbon loom exhibited in the large room on the upper floor, with its sophisticated mechanism, is a reminder of what was formerly an important cottage industry in the area around Basel, or the weaving of silk ribbons and trimmings.
The kitchen is equipped with an open hearth and a chimney hood as well as an opening to the outside oven. The floor is covered with clay tiles of various ages.
A number of additions have been made to the work part of the building. The old post and beam construction can be seen in the wall between the threshing floor and the animal stall. There are traces of wattle and daub infillings. At the rear of the building are pigsties, small sheds and the privy.
Preservation, but where?
The relocation of the house to the Museum was discussed as early as the mid sixties before the Museum had been established. At that time it was still inhabited by its owner, who ordained that, after his death, this building of major historical interest should be preserved as a museum.
While most of the old farmhouses in Therwil were demolished or underwent radical alterations, the “Hügin” house was preserved in its original state. The more its surroundings changed, the more interest this old building aroused. In the village there were demands for its preservation at its original location. After a protracted democratic process, the people of Therwil voted in 1984 for the relocation of the house to the Museum Ballenberg.
The photo shows the house at its original location.