“The city is near the North Sea, on one side the vast meadows of the marshland stretch out, on the other there were still fairly large heaths in my youth, some of which have now been reclaimed. [...] The city still had a rather ancient character, many houses still with stepped gables, as the old St. Jürgenstift still stands in this way. In the old ducal castle, which lies close to the town, the great knight’s hall was full of life-size images of princes, knights and noblewomen. All of this had an impact on me”, wrote Theodor Storm in 1873 to the Austrian writer Ada Christen about his native town Husum (letter of March 2, 1873). And in the same year Storm once again mentioned the Knights’ Hall of Husum castle in an autobiographical sketch as one of the places where he received “strong impressions” as a child (letter of August 13/21, 1873 to the Austrian literary critic Emil Kuh).
The “Schloss vor Husum”, as it has been known since the 19th century, was built by Duke Adolf of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf in 1577–1582 north of the city; today it is an ‘exclave’ of the district of North Friesland enclosed by the urban area.
The palace, built in the style of the Dutch Renaissance, was originally the base of the ducal administration and jurisdiction, but in the 17th century it became the seat of the Gottorf widow duchies and expanded accordingly. Furthermore, the office of Husum was administered here.
The castle had belonged to the Danish kings since 1721, after the Gottorf family had been thrown out of the Duchy of Schleswig, to which the office of Husum belonged, as a result of the Northern War.
In the first half of the 18th century the building and its ducal furnishings fell into disrepair. Due to a far-reaching renovation in 1751/52 in line with baroque design principles, the castle lost its renaissance character, but its continued existence was ultimately secured. Much of the decor was sold. After the renovation work, Husum castle contained the royal state rooms as well as the official administration and the apartment of the bailiff. After the Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein was formed from the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein in 1867, it housed the administration of the newly created Husum district, the district court (since 1873) and the apartment of the district administrators. In 1919 the district acquired the castle from the Prussian state. Until 1972 the castle was the administrative center of the district of North Friesland, created in 1970 by merging the districts of Südtondern, Husum and Eiderstedt.
In the following years, the Husum Castle, which had been structurally altered again and again since the end of the 18th century, was rebuilt to the state of 1751/52. The main building, the former “Corps de Logis”, has been used for museum purposes in most of its parts since 1977.
Text by Holger Borzikowsky (1947–2015)
Translation by Bjarne Albertsen