The area around Lake Zurich is architecturally one of the most diverse regions of Switzerland. The spectrum of house types ranges from the country residence of rich townspeople to the stockbreeder’s house in the hilly pre-alpine area bordering on the Canton of Schwyz. Most characteristic of this region, however, is the wine-grower’s house with two living quarters. This was the form taken by the Richterswil house at its original location.
The house from Richterswil exhibits the customary timber-framed construction of the second half of the 18th century. In contrast to the older type of half-timbering that can be seen in the house from Uesslingen TG (No. 621), the construction of the Richterswil house exhibits greater subdivision by diagonal braces and horizontal rails.
The house stands on a high masonry foundation which is partly sunk into the ground. In order to secure the tenon-jointed sills, they are reinforced at the corners of the house with carefully worked wrought-iron bands. There are ornamented shutters above the rows of windows of the parlours. On the gable side most vulnerable to storms, the few windows are protected from the rain by protruding sandstone slabs.
On the storey devoted to living quarters, the kitchen contains dishes and utensils from the early 19th century. In the original two-family house, the larder was also a kitchen. One parlour contains a tiled stove from the Zurich Oberland built by Hans Jakob Scheller in 1795. Between the stove and wall, a steep staircase leads to the bedrooms on the upper floor. Two installations in the attic are characteristic of the region around Lake Zurich. The small smokehouse was used for the conservation of bacon and sausages and the clumsy hoist was used to haul dried faggots up into the loft in the autumn.
Bee-keeping and honey production played an important part in the self-sufficient life of the farmer. Like the apiary from Mettmenstetten ZH (No. 614), the industrious insects were often kept in daintily-constructed miniature houses.
At the Hairdresser’s
The hairdresser’s exhibition provides an insight into the wide-ranging activities of this trade. The barber-surgeon and the ordinary barber, predecessors of today’s hairdresser’s, could not be bothered with niceties when pursuing their trade. Frank illustrations on wood-carvings show cupping, how they bled veins, drew teeth, dealt with injuries and performed small surgical operations. It is only since 1898 that the title Barber/Hairdresser-surgeon may no longer be used. As late as the 20th century, it was, however, quite usual to have teeth extracted by the hairdresser.
The men’s hairdresser’s salon looks more comfortable. Here there are two commodes with mirrors and chairs dating from 1898 and lots of equipment. The ladies’ salon of 1945 shows a complete set of equipment from that time. But even here, looking at the apparatus for permanent waves, one is reminded that “beauty must suffer”.