At the western end of the high street, close to the palace, lies this stately ducal house from 1774. With a ground floor area of 218 square meters, it was a suitable official residence for the duke’s court councillor.
A wide four-step staircase in limestone leads up to the double-leaf front door, which has a fluted frame. The door has six panels with carved leaf vines and flowers. The large brass door hammer probably originates from another house and disappeared for a number of years but has now been found.
In the interior of the house, the traditional floor plan has been preserved on the ground floor with centrally located vestibule and stairs to the first floor, living rooms facing the street and a kitchen facing the back yard. In the kitchen is an original fireplace with mantel. In the large drawing room, you can see the plastered ceiling with “rocailles”, which are c-shaped ornaments from the Rococo period.
Like the king and other princes, the Duke of Augustenborg had a so-called “Court Counsel”. It consisted of himself, the chief of court, the local magistrate, and the estate manager. The latter two had the title of court councillor. The local magistrate was a type of judge and chief of police, while the estate manager had special qualifications in agriculture, animal husbandry, finance and administration. Over time, three court councillors have lived in the house.
The first occupant was Court Councillor and Estate Manager Michael Martensen. As estate manager it was his job to make sure that the peasants and the estates made a profit. The position was associated with great responsibility, but also with the highest salary among the court officials (courtiers). Martensen died unexpectedly in 1787, after which his widow built Storegade 19 for herself and their son.
In 1788, the large house was inhabited by Court Councillor Heinrich Johann Matthiessen and his wife, a son, four daughters and two servants. He was a local magistrate and among his duties, he had to punish, impose fines, and collect debt when peasants and other subjects did not pay or tried to avoid the obligation to perform corvée work (forced labour) for the duke. However, he became known as a peasant-friendly official when he took the side of the peasants in a long dispute with the duke over tax increases. At no time did the duke meet the peasants – he ruled from his desk, and, with the help of good lawyers, he was successful in his claim.
After the death of Matthiessen in 1820, the house was taken over by the unmarried Court Councillor and Local Magistrate Johann David Thomas Prehn. He was a lawyer and it was his job to handle the legal affairs of the estate district. He welcomed many different people into his office which was always busy.
When Hans Christian Andersen visited the duke in 1844, he called on Prehn to have his passport renewed. There he met the widow of Court Councillor Petersen, who was a tenant in the house and whom he knew from previous encounters with the ducal family. They had a pleasant time and she showed him some pictures. The officials at the ducal court were generally very sociable.
After the war in 1848, Prehn was declared “persona non grata” by the Danish government and probably moved away to serve the duke elsewhere.
After that, the house was inhabited by soldiers, but following the war in 1864, Nicolai Nielsen Jacobsen from Sarup is mentioned as the owner. From 1874 to 1902, the house was rented to the sisters Anna and Sophie Hoeck, who were clergy daughters from Ketting.
During that period or shortly after, the house was renovated – the façade was plastered and taller windows were installed. The curved panes probably originate from Flensburg Glassworks. The windows on the first floor facing the street have lesenes (plaster strips), and it is assumed that the 10 windows on the ground floor also had this before the renovation. The wide wall dormer projects slightly out from the body of the house giving it a “risalit” (avant-corps) effect. The large oval window in the gable triangle and the square pinnacle (spire) at the top, give the house a neo-Gothic feel.
In 1895, Dr. (M.D.) Ernst Gottlieb Thede from Kiel purchased the house and made some changes, including the terrazzo floor in the vestibule where the Latin word “Salve” (hello) still welcomes the guests of the house. He also set up his doctor’s surgery in the house. Dr. Thede died in 1934, but his daughter continued living in the house until her death in 1949.
Since then, there have been various owners, but in recent years the house has been suffering from severe decay – so much that it was almost beyond saving.
Today, the house is owned by a self-governing institution, which works to bring the house back to the splendour of former times. In 2018, they managed to raise funds for the renovation of the roof. The old roof tiles were sorted and reused, and supplemented with tiles from the Bishop’s House in Ketting. The house also includes an old barn and a garden, where there were once many fruit trees and a small romantic gazebo.