About house and family

[Villa] In1876, the newly-wed couple moved to a small house overlooking the lake of Lucerne, half-way up the hill and too small for a painter's studio. So Alfred Schoeck bought some land nearby and asked the architect who had already built the "Waldstätterhof" in Brunnen, Johann Meyer, to design an "atelier" big enough for the large pictures he meant to paint after the sketches he had brought back from his earlier journeys. The studio, with its windows facing north, was built, and fortunately - mostly for reasons of symmetry - some more rooms were added, facing south this time and with one of the most beautiful views over lake and mountains.
(The white patch on the right, among the forest trees, is the "Villa Gutenberg" where the famous Bavarian king Ludwig II then resided for some weeks with his favourite actor Josef Kainz; sometimes, Alfred Schoeck got the opportunity to listen when monologues of Schiller's "Tell" were recited at night in the garden.)

[By clicking the single members of the family, you'll obtain more biographical information.]

For a couple of years, the façade remained intact, although the growing family required more room which was provided for on the back part of the house. The four sons found their "paradise of childhood" in house, garden and the forest behind, with its huge erratic blocks where they sometimes played indians using the tent the painter had brought back from Nova Scotia - which resulted in the future composer's first "opera" after Karl May's "Schatz im Silbersee".

[Stube] Family life seems to have been harmonic and cheerful, with a generous father sometimes trying to hold his sons back from school with his famous words "Kinder, bleibt doch noch ein bisschen da!" and the lively and practical mother who tried to keep the household in order without forgetting her piano on which she accompanied her husband, whose fine baritone voice once had allowed him to sing Kaspar in a Genevan amateur production of Weber's "Freischütz". Little Othmar's words "Der liebe Gott meint es gut mit uns, dass er uns ein Klavier und ein schönes Haus geschenkt hat" are recorded by his brother Walter.

Obviously, money didn't matter in those years, although the painter was no longer interested in exhibiting his pictures (in earlier days, at least two exhibitions in London had been successful). Now and then he sold his paintings to the foreign guests who visited his studio, and sent some pictures to world exhibitions (and national ones as well).

[Hotel] Matters changed when the education of four sons required a steady income. Tourism flourished at the turn of the century, and as Agathe Schoeck came from Brunnen's most fashionable hotel and knew the business, it was decided to open a hotel too. The five storeys of the "Eden Hotel" were built on the steep slope under the house with a magnificent dining hall on top, designed in a curious diagonal shape so as not to impede the painter's view from his favourite window (Walter Schoeck: "Am schönsten aber war der Blick vom obersten Fenster rechts, an dem der Künstler mit einem Zeichnungsblatt stand und mit merkwürdigen Tinten die Farben eines besonders farbenreichen Gewitteraufzuges notierte").

The connection between house and hotel became irreversible only some years later, when Paul Schoeck built the so-called "Neubau" (1913). Because of the short season between easter and autumn, every single bed was needed in the summer months, and so the private parts of the villa were also converted in hotel rooms; in very good summers, hotel guests had to be put up even in the "atelier" - one of them was the young Ann Bridge who describes the situation in her book "Portrait of my mother" (London 1955):

Our quarters here were peculiar and amusing. We stayed at the Eden Hotel, owned by the Schoeck-Fassbind Family; it was very full and my mother, Grace, and I had to be accommodated in Herr Schoeck's studio, a huge room on the top floor with a sky-light and stuffed birds and animals everywhere, and the artist's rather intimidatingly dramatic canvases on walls and easels. Beds and washstands had been summarily interposed among those startling objects, making them somehow even more startling, but we were pretty comfortable, and the views up and down the lake from the huge windows more than compensated for going to sleep with a stuffed lämmergeier with outstretched wings suspended from the ceiling above one's head.

Hotel business became difficult in both world wars (and the world economic crisis between them). In World War I, the "Eden Hotel" survived as quarters for German internees; after 1939, it provided a comparatively safe place for the headquarters of the Swiss army's 9th Division, because the overgrown flat roofs and the big trees in the garden made it practically invisible from the air.

[Treppenhaus] After the war, no member of the family was willing to take over the hotel (the four brothers, now all in their sixties, had only two descendants: Walter's son Georg and Othmar's daughter Gisela) and so it was subsequently sold in 1952 [Seefront] - without the original "Villa Ruhheim", which had been bought before by Ralph Schoeck. Many changes have been made since in the hotel Eden, but not in the villa, although the two buildings could never be completely separated. Till today, astonished hotel guests admire the big eagle hanging from the top of the stairway, a real eagle shot by Alfred Schoeck in 1868 in the Danube delta.

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