When Szczecin was “the capital of permanent poverty”. The Quistorp family had a great influence on its development and future attractiveness

More and more residents of Szczecin are interested in the life story of entrepreneur and philanthropist Johannes Quistorp. This is evidenced by the full hall and the lack of free places at the last meeting dedicated to the Quistorp family, which undoubtedly influenced the development of Szczecin at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition, each member of the family carried out charitable activities. They had it written not only in their genes, but also in their coat of arms.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Johannes Quistorp. On this occasion, Dorota Pundyk and Sabina Wacławczyk prepared the project “2Q22 – the year of commemoration of Johannes Quistorp” with a number of activities planned for the whole year. One of them was a meeting dedicated to the members of this family, which was organized in the renovated interiors of the building in Mother Teresa Square, where the branch of the Municipal Public Library is now located.

“Szczecin, the capital of permanent poverty”

The most famous of the whole family is Johannes Quistorp. He was born on November 14, 1822 in Greifswald, the eldest son of the royal commissioner. In 1846 he moved to Szczecin, where he did one year’s military service.

– At the time, Szczecin was the capital of permanent poverty. A poverty that affects all social states. This is a completely abstract situation for most of us – says Sabina Wacławczyk.

Johannes decided to stay in Szczecin. At first he began to work, among others, at Goldammer & Schleich, and in 1850 he founded his own company – the Portland cement works “Lebbin” in Lubin on the island of Wolin, which under his leadership was transformed into a company by shares.

– At the time, Portland cement was a hit in the construction market. This business couldn’t go wrong. Johannes Quistorp was a forward-thinking entrepreneur that he created his business in such a way that it was self-sufficient – says Sabina Wacławczyk. – He also ordered the construction of a shipyard. He owned a mine near Lubin, from which he extracted the raw material. He transported it by boat and processed it into other products in the factory. He also opened a foundry and a barrel production facility. Thanks to this, he was able to manage his business so well – says Sabina Wacławczyk.

The first to take care of the social needs of employees

Our hero became famous from the Lubin factory not only because it was profitable and brought him a lot of money. It was here that he established the Employee Training Institute. Boys with good grades were admitted to the institution. If they were successful, they got factory jobs and the opportunity to be members of the cooperative.

– Johannes Quistorp also offered his employees a social insurance, then new, something unprecedented. This Prussia was the place of residence of the victims of many wars. The defeat affected both the nobility and the poorer states. Hunger, poverty, begging, vagrancy. All this led to the fact that, on the one hand, Johannes had to insure his employees. But on the other hand, he didn’t have to build them schools, apartments or a library. He did not have to educate and raise them – emphasizes Sabina Wacławczyk. The philanthropist was the first Prussian factory owner to take care of the social needs of his employees. He provided them with official apartments, a widow’s house, a library and a club room. For he had seen what hunger and poverty could lead to. He wanted to prevent that from happening.

The first developer of Szczecin

– He also owned a steam brickyard in Stołczyn and landed properties. He was the founder of a construction company and the initiator of the creation of new districts of Szczecin, i.e. Westend, Neu Westend and Braunsfelde – adds Dorota Pundyk.

Westend is located near Wojska Polskiego Avenue and Mickiewicza and Wawrzyniaka streets. Szczecin is fortunate that the first two villas, built after the purchase of the land by Johannes and his partners – August Horn and Heinrich Christoph Burmeister, have been preserved. They were the so-called Show Villas, which are currently located at numbers 99 (Trzy Korony Pub) et al. Wojska Polskiego 101 (clinic headquarters).

– It was such a live advertisement. It was supposed to show future plot owners: “see what we have already built and what we can build for you”, explains Dorota Pundyk. – In addition, there are also two villas that refer to the beautiful history of 19th century villa construction. These are the buildings of the cultural incubator and the headquarters of the ambulance service, once the home of Johannes Quistorp. The two buildings are connected by towers, which were fashionable in the construction industry of those years.

Minna – inspiration and good spirit of Quistorps

In 1852 Johannes Quistorp married Wilhelmina née Theune. It was his tombstone that was first discovered by the Denkmal Pomorze group in 2020. The authors of the project “2Q22 – the year of the commemoration of Quistorp” also took part in the exploratory work.

– At that time, we had no particular hope of finding anything in this cemetery – Dorota Pundyk recalls. – What was our emotion when on the first day of research we managed to find Wilhelmina’s tombstone.

– Why was the emotion so emotional? Now we are doing a men’s project, but the more we dig into the history of this family, the more it turns out that we are also doing a women’s project. Only then did they not have the right to a first and last name, let alone someone to write about their merits. We can only guess that Wilhelmina was an organizer, a good spirit, a clue and an inspiration. Of course, this charity wouldn’t matter if the men didn’t earn money. But what they used it for was the women who deserved it. That is why the figure of Wilhelmina is so important to us – adds Sabina Wacławczyk.

Let us add that it was probably Minna who inspired her husband to build the “Bethanien” Care Home run by the deacon nuns.

Martin succeeds his father

Johannes had five children with Wilhelmina – Maria, Johanne, Luise, Martin and Heinrich, who died tragically aged 24.

– At that time, we already knew that Martin was to take over the family inheritance. After the death of his father, he continued his charitable activities – says Dorota Pundyk. He developed social amenities, did not remove any employee amenities, but expanded them.

Thanks to an emphyteutic lease, he managed to secure the supply of chalk from Rügen. He also owned electricity and water works, sawmills, as well as meat factories and restaurants.

Martin Quistorp was also actively involved in the development of Szczecin. At the request of his father, he enlarged Quistorp Park (now Kasprowicz Park). Rare species of trees and shrubs have been planted, equestrian routes have been marked out, belvederes and a toboggan run have been created. In 1924 he sold the land for the construction of the magistrate at the town hall, and in 1925 Szczecin received the Arkoński Forest as a gift, as well as the observation tower, which he financed to commemorate his father.

Like his father, Martin was a developer. He enlarged Nowy Westend (now Pogodno), where the streets were named after the names of family members. The houses in this district were perhaps smaller than in the Westend, but they were equipped with the assets of modernity – the supply of water and electricity.

Martin never married. He died on June 6, 1929 at the age of 68 from pneumonia. He was buried in the cemetery of the “Bethanien” nursing home, where the rest of the Quistorp family was buried.

Charity written in genes and coat of arms

Each of the Quistorps was engaged in charity. They had it written not only in their genes, but also in their coat of arms. Johannes’ brother, the clergyman Wilhelm Quistorp, became the head of the rescue house in Züllchow (today Żelechowo) at an early age.

– What is important in this coat of arms can be found in the history of the family. It is above all an absolute commitment of his service to the faith. This is what the cross shows. The white of the shield symbolized purity and fidelity, and the blue color of the cross – justice, loyalty and good reputation. It is not just a graphic sign. This is really a confession of what the Quistorp family has been doing for many generations – emphasizes Sabina Wacławczyk.

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