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Schwarzer Bär

Width at front: c. 5.5 metres

The Bär was one of the oldest buildings in the Judengasse and was erected shortly after the creation of the Judengasse. The Frankfurt historian Alexander Dietz dates it as 1461/62, Fritz Ettlinger puts it around 1490. In any event it was one of the earliest houses and was, as Dietz writes, "one of the largest and most beautiful houses", with an original frontal width of 9.7 metres. In the following century at least seven houses were built on the original site or created through subdivision of the original building. As the house sign was black, by the end of the various subdivisions the original house was called Schwarzer Bär ("black bear"). Right to the last it remained one of the widest houses in the Judengasse with a width of 5.5 metres.
The family names Bär, Baer or Beer that emerged in Frankfurt do not come from the house name Bär, but are derived from the forename Ber.
The Schwarze Bär was the family home of the Worms family. The founder of the family was Vifes (Feibesch), who came to Frankfurt from Worms, and was a "master builder" in the Frankfurt Jewish community in 1490 and 1492. He had eight children and died in 1501. His daughter Gutlin married Haium from Friedberg, who took the name Worms. Subsequent members of the Worms family at the Schwarzer Bär descended from this couple.
At the end of the 17th century there were two families living in the house. One family was so wealthy that they were able to live from the interest on their capital and support a student who tutored their children.
In 1807 a famous occupant of the house died in Offenbach, the imperial court facktor Isaac Michel Speyer. As a member of a delegation from the Jewish community he had attended the imperial coronations of Josef II and Franz II. He was regarded as the "leader of and spokesman for the Jews".
The house was destroyed in the fire of 1711 but soon rebuilt. In 1863 the city took it over for demolition.


© Jüd. Museum Frankfurt 1992-2002 /  Sources