At the beginning of the 17th century, there was a village fire in Villnachern. This small house was most likely built at the same time as the rebuilding of the rest of the settlement and it is similar to the late Gothic structure type («Stock») seen elsewhere only in the relicts of buildings.
The village of Villnachern, located on the edge of the Jura region, engaged itself in earlier times mainly with the production of wine. The vine pest that broke out in the early 20th century destroyed viniculture there, so that many Villnachern farmers were forced to switch to growing fruit. This estate possessed, however, only a small bit of cultivated land. The owners earned their livings as craftspeople, as weavers or shoemakers. Farming and handicrafts led to the development of a social structure of smallholders and petty traders that existed well into the post-war period.
Villnachern was also known for its quarries in which Jura limestone was cut. This house from the 1630ís is, therefore, built entirely of Jura limestone. It was probably built during the time of the general rebuilding of the village after the devastating fire in the summer of 1633 that destroyed 24 buildings. The style of house leads us to assume that it was originally commissioned by a wealthy client. Such a house, or «Stock», which had stone walls and stood separate from other buildings, protected better against fire and break-ins. However, one had to reckon with considerably higher associated building costs.
We know from written sources that the house was occupied by two families in 1850. At that time, 13 people lived together in the cramped quarters. From 1866 to 1897, the building was divided by floor between two owners.
The exhibition on the groundfloor shows the hat-makerís atelier owned by Hans Isler-Räber (1908Ė1997) from Wohlen AG. He made hats out of felt, straw and other materials right up till his death. The original steam press has been restored and is in good working order.