Lost in time: a forgotten Weimar ballroom brought back to life

Image credits: Moritz Gruppe GmbH / Ronny Goyn

It was one of the greatest chance finds ever - a beautiful Berlin dancehall from the '20s, forgotten for decades.

Filled with debris and close to collapse, it was discovered by a Berlin property developer who just happened to feel curious about an unkempt mid-town apartment block he was passing.

After persuading the caretaker to let him peek inside the boarded-up 'store room', he discovered a Sleeping Beauty: the crumbling remains of a Weimar cabaret complete with tiny stage and balcony.

Built in 1905, the venue was opened as 'Fritz Schmidt’s Restaurant und Festsäle'; from 1919, it was renamed the 'Kolibri (Hummingbird)' and began to cater for the burgeoning cabaret scene.

The combination of ballroom, theatre and restaurant welcomed party-loving Berliners for several years but then, abruptly, the festivities stopped. From 1934 onwards there are no further records of the business.

Post-war, the building found itself located in East Berlin, and although the adjoining apartment blocks remained in use, the three-storey former nightspot was bricked up, became a store-room and workshop, neglected and forgotten.

Image credits: Moritz Gruppe GmbH / Ronny Goyn

Image credits: Moritz Gruppe GmbH / Ronny Goyn

So what still remains of the original ballroom?

Although crumbling, many of the details are still intact, and the pictures here - several taken shortly after the find was announced back in 2013 - depict the captivating splendour of the stucco and stairwells, faded wall paintings and signs.

Moritz Gruppe GmbH / Ronny Goyn, restorers, restorers

The new owner of the building made the wise decision to preserve, as much as possible, the time-worn character of this important relic of Weimar Berlin. The painstaking restoration process took many years, but today, with its tall, arched windows finally unblocked, and up-to-date technology incorporated into the ancient rooms, the former 'Kolibri' enjoys a new incarnation as event space 'Secret Garden'.

Of course, it seems a little sad that you can't just walk in, unannounced, for a glass of champagne or two, but the truth is that this old-new arrival is quickly becoming a venue of choice for some of Berlin's most exciting bashes.

Not quite such a secret, then, and we'll just have to wait for an invitation to the next party.

Secret Garden, Gartenstraße 6, 10115 Berlin

See also:
Relive Berlin's Roaring Twenties
Charlottenburg's hidden village


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