A cordial welcome to Teisenhoferhof !
This awe-inspiring building in the Lower Austrian Wachau valley (Thal Wachau) in the heart of Weissenkirchen testifies to an eventful past. Some murals in the west wing would seem to date back to the second half of the 13th century. After 1334, the then lords of the manor, Hans and Leuthold von Kuenring, demolished two buildings, formerly belonging to the monastery of Freising, in order to create a market place just by the manor house.
The building takes its name from Hainrich Teisenhofer who, in the mid-15th century, substantially extended it in Late Gothic style. The ceiling beams in the gatehouse, still visible today, are dated 1451 according to dendrochronology. Teisenhofer was an influential citizen in the Wachau, where he lived between 1439 and 1468 and repeatedly served on the Wachau Valley Council. He was the son of an Episcopalian Minister whose seat was near Freising in Bavaria, and appears in several insignia books of the period. His coat of arms can be found above the gate to the marketplace.
Until the 18th century, the manor house was also known as “Schützenhof “, or archer’s house, presumably because the inner courtyard, among other things, was used for crossbow shooting. The preserved towers and walls testify to the defensive nature of the manor house which, together with the Church of the Assumption of Mary, fortified around 1530 against the raiding Turks, provided protection to the villagers.
In 1525, Michael Gebl, then Reichspawzahlmeister and Ambtsverwalter der Befestigung Wiens, (paymaster and official administrator of the fortification of Vienna) acquired the mansion together with its vineyard for an estimated sum of 1,867 pounds of pfenning (at the time equivalent to over 4 kilos of gold). Later on (after 1540) he, in the role of master-builder, reconstructed in Renaissance style the originally two-storey arcaded courtyard. In fact, as early as 1525 he had been master-builder of the Late Gothic choir of the parish church.
Under his son Gebhardt, who was on the Thal Wachau Council uninterruptedly for 40 years from 1549 up to his death and also served as market judge several times, the manor house enjoyed its last heyday.
Having made a sizeable fortune through dubious business deals, Gebhardt Gebl, according to the copious inventory lists in the market records of Weissenkirchen, subsequently fitted the mansion out with a drawing room, a bathroom, a ballroom and even its own armoury. Overestimating his own power, Gebl in 1579 prompted the local council to also lease the manor of Dürnstein.
With poor harvests between 1580 and 1590 came economic misfortune. According to the market records the grapes rotted on the vines due to the cold wet weather which came with the changing climate (the beginning of the Little Ice Age). With Gebl’s death, the Counter-Reformation bringing with it religious conflicts, the high taxes levied to pay for the Turkish wars, the uprisings of impoverished farmers, economic decline did not spare Thal Wachau, so the debt-ridden township had to resell the mansion in 1605.
From then on Teisenhoferhof changed hands several times from one member of the nobility to another but all with little interest in investing in the upkeep of the building. In 1793 the attic floor suffered extensive damage in a major village fire and the complex was left to decay slowly. It was only in 1942 that the Federal Office for Listed Buildings commissioned partial reconstruction in the south and west wings of Teisenhoferhof.
In the second half of the 20th century Teisenhoferhof was owned in part privately and in part belonged to the state of Lower Austria. Today it is fully owned by the market town of Weissenkirchen and is a vibrant social centre, steeped in history and used predominantly for public and cultural events.