The Retti Palace is an historical pearl of architecture in Ansbach, which has been in a slumber for some time. It is a late baroque secular building, which the Lombard architect Leopoldo Retti (1704-1751) established as his own private city palace. In 1743, the builder received the ground located on Jägergasse (now Bischof-Meiser-Straße) as a gift from Margrave Carl Wilhelm Friedrich. In the following year, about 270 years ago, the construction began. However, Retti never lived in this house which he had designed for himself, as he had already left Ansbach in 1749 for Stuttgart. The house with its changing and illustrious residents has a rich history that is to be rudimentary documented below.
Ten years ago the City of Ansbach bought the house from the private sector, so it could be put to a new use. Most recently, the building has been utilized as a residence with an attached medical office. Two rooms with stucco ornaments and paintings above the doors from the late 18th century change with architectural elements from the 1950s to the 1980s in other rooms.The now vacant building is located in close proximity to the residence in the midst of the old nobility and legation quarter and adjacent to the courtyard garden.
The Italian architect Leopoldo Matteo Retti was born in 1704 in the village Laino in Lombardy. He came from a family of artists, which included his three older brothers Paolo, Riccardo and Livio. Their uncle and guardian Donato Giuseppe Frisoni, also plasterer and master-builder, was entrusted by Duke Eberhard Ludwig von Württemberg in 1714 with the construction of the Ludwigsburg Palace. He brought his nephew three years later to Ludwigsburg. There he received his architectural training. The Duke also sent him to Paris to study French Rococo from 1724 to 1726. Upon his return, Retti at the young age of only 24 was appointed as the Ducal-Württemberg Building Director and Engineer Lieutenant. He took over the leading position in the development of the new City of Ludwigsburg.
Retti’s abilities and reputation spread to the ducal family in Ansbach (then Onolzbach) - the mother of Karl Wilhelm Friedrich (later known as the "Wild Margrave") came from the house of Wuerttemberg. In 1731 Retti moved to Ansbach and was awarded the rank of Engineer Captain in the Frankonian Residence, where he was to remain for 20 years. A year later, he became the successor to Carl Friedrich von Zocha as master-builder at the Frankonian court.
Gradually he brought more related artists to Ansbach, such as the plasterers Diego and Carlo Carlone, the marble-imitation maker Ciacomo Antonio Corbellini, and the sculptor Antonio Sylva. In 1733 Retti married his wife Anna Clara Darny, with whom he lived for the next ten years at the castle gate.
In those days he constructed a series of buildings that shaped the face of Ansbach until today: the Herrieden Gate, the modification of the Ansbach Castle in French style, St. Gumbertus as court church, the construction of the synagogue, as well as the design of entire streets, especially along Johann-Sebastian-Bach-Platz, in the so-called new display around the Karlsplatz Square and the Courtyard Garden. He also designed many buildings located outside of the City, such as the Dennenlohe Castle, the suburb of Roth, as well as many churches, presbyteries and schools.
When his other urban plans could no longer be implemented because of lack of funding, as a consequence of the Austrian Succession War, the architect in 1746 first went temporarily, and three years later moved permanently to Stuttgart. There he devoted himself as lieutenant colonel and chief architect to the Duke of Württemberg until his death in 1751. While there, he mainly conducted the construction of the New Castle.
In 1743 Margrave Karl Wilhelm Friedrich bestowed to his court architect a building site, located on Jägergasse, now Bishof-Meiser-Str., for his own personal use. The completed construction should serve as an 'adornment' to the street, as the Margrave had explicitly stated.
The land was adjacent to the house of a high official (No. 7) and the margrave hunting secretariat (now the Building Department). On the property there was the court carpenter’s workshop, of which the rear building (adjacent to the Hofgarten) was dismantled in 1825. In 1861, a new staircase was built in timber frame construction on the south facade. An older rear part of the building to the southeast of the main building, belonging to the former carpenter’s workshop, was demolished in 2005.
Structurally it is a two-storey hipped end roof-building with three-axle central projection and dormer. It has rusticated pilasters, a plaster structure and stucco ornaments on some walls and ceilings. The staircase and a large hall on the piano nobile are preserved in almost original condition. The main floor space of the building is 587.80 square meters, added 154,80 square meters of floor space and 225,20 sqm traffic areas such as stairs and hallways. Another 61,50 sqm account for additional rooms below 1.5 m height. The house consists of a basement, the ground floor, the first floor, as well as the 1st and 2nd attic.
Retti never moved in his palace, which was completed in 1749, but sold the property to the Town of Ansbach as a Bailiwick Office and thus fit for the senior bailiff and private minister Christoph Ludwig Graf von Seckendorf-Aberdar.
1757 move-in of the new senior bailiff (and Margrave son) Friedrich Carl von Falckenhausen, who in 1760 acquired the estate from the City. From his marriages to Caroline von Beust, and after her death in 1767, to Florentine von Beust sprang eleven children who grew up in this house. After his death the palace was due to distribution of the estate: While on the upper floor the widow enjoyed lifelong right of residence, the lower part was rented out. Contrary to the provisions of 1749, that the house should remain owned by the City and used as upper bailiwick, it was signed-over to Friedrich Carl von Falckenhausen in 1760.
The chief forester Albrecht Freiherr von Schirnding, who had married into the family of Falckenhausen, acquired the house in 1825.
In 1852 the palace was sold to the Gendarmerie Captain Baron von Waldenfels. The ground floor was rented out to aristocratic members of the garrison, such as the Lieutenant Baron von Eyb in 1886 and in 1891 to the Count Seinsheim.
After the death of Baron von Waldenfels the community of heirs sold the property to the straw mosaic seller Wilhelm Wagenhöfer. The address book of 1894 listed him as an employee of the company Friedrich Ebert (straw mosaic and cardboard manufacturer), 1921 as chief cashier of the Ansbach Equipment Institution. Until about 1909 also garrison members were still living in the palace, such as the second lieutenant Baron Julius Ludwig Gustav von Eyb, the captain and squadron’s chief Theodor Konitzky and the lieutenant and regiment’s adjutant Baron Philipp von Seefried auf Buttenheim, later commander of the 8th Cavalry Association of the Bavarian Army. In 1935 the later Wehrmacht commander of Kulmbach, Lieutenant Kurt Myrus was listed on the first floor. During this time, the house and outbuildings were inhabited by a total of twelve parties.
The address book from 1910 includes on the ground floor of the main house the practice of Dr. Adam Alexander Krampf, while the first floor was shared by the County Magistrate Henry Kadner, his wife and his widowed sister (?) Rosa, as well as the customs senior servant's widow Sophie Schmitt. Lina Wagenhöfer, who by then was also widowed, lived in the back of the house next to the teacher's daughter Auguste Graf. The top floor was occupied at this time and also later on by several individuals.
After the death of the Wagenhöfer's widow, the estate was passed to his daughter Mary, who had married the general practitioner Dr. Adam Krampf. He had served in the First World War as a staff physician, and practiced at the palace. After his death in 1951 his daughter, Dr. Elizabeth Krampf, took over the medical practice until 1999.
The street name was changed in the mid-19th century to "Theresienstraße" (after Queen Therese of Bavaria). During the Third Reich it was changed again to "Julius Streicher-Str." (After the NSDAP Gauleiter of Middle Franconia and publisher of anti-semitic libel "Der Stürmer"). After World War II it was changed back to "Jägergasse". In 1958, the street received its present name. Owned by the Heritage Community Wagenhöfer-Kraft the property remained in their possession up to the year 2004.