Initial Spark for new Life at Elbtor

Interview with Frank Mehr

"The house is my lottery win.”
Frank Mehr, Homeowner at Elbtor


You are an out and out Schönebecker. Why?

Frank Mehr: I feel a strong bond with the Elbe. This is where I have my large circle of friends, a good job close by – and family tradition is definitely important too. My father and grandfather lived in Schönebeck, always close to the Elbe. My grandfather built wooden ships and completed his apprenticeship at Schönebeck Wharf. That does leave its mark.

Did your house at Elbtor belong to the family?

Frank Mehr: No. It would not be so derelict if it had. Now all I can do is tear it down. I always had the wish to own property right by the Elbe. And despite its condition, I simply fell in love with the house directly next to the river. But all I got from my wife was a smile when I said I was going to buy it. It took two years, all in all. The property belonged to the municipal development company; it was already bankrupt at the time, and I couldn’t find anyone to listen when I made a purchase offer. The company was then wound up; the house went to the savings bank as main creditor, and they sold. It is like me winning the lottery that I could buy it. It is the most beautiful property in Schönebeck and actually a disgrace that it was vacant until 2002.

You then demolished the house and built a new one. But you based it on the previous structure and did not build in a modern style.

Frank Mehr: Unfortunately, the old house was beyond salvation. The Office for Listed Monuments approached me and instructed me that I was not allowed to install any white, plastic windows or such like in this area. That was never my plan, quite the contrary. the new building looks almost exactly like its predecessor. I also reconstructed the semitimbered front building that used to house a cafe. Only a trained eye can see that it is even new. I now live there with my wife and the two kids. My five-year-old son loves the Elbe and enjoys watching the waterfowl. So he’s got the perfect place for that now.

With your house at Elbtor, you were something like the initial spark for development in this area …

Frank Mehr: It seems so, as a lot has happened since. Additional houses have been built all round us. But I did not intend to start it all off. But I think it’s great that it happened like that. Schönebeck can cope. After all, I am member of the Elbe Banks Promotion Society in Schönebeck, and if things progress down by the Elbe, I am all for it.

What does the Elbe Banks Promotion Society do?

Frank Mehr: As the name suggests, the society wants to gentrify the Elbe banks in Schönebeck. The Salzblume, a sculpture made of iron and stainless steel and designed by the Danish artist Anders Nyborg in 1996/97, was the work of the society. Notice boards were put up around the Elbe and other places, and cultural events were organised. The Stone Sculptors’ Symposium was part of it. At the end of 2009, prompted by Stadtwerke Schönebeck GmbH and with the city’s support, Elbufer Förderverein Schönebeck e.V. organised a large-scale fundraiser to reconstruct the 100-year-old market fountain, which is of great significance to the city’s history. Unfortunately, I don’t really have the time at the moment to play as large a role in the society as I would like to. But that will change, and then I can get a few things up and running.

Will Schönebeck’s participation in IBA provide further impetus for Elbe banks and city centre development, just like you initiated at Elbtor?

Frank Mehr: Until now certainly, I have barely noticed that Schönebeck is an IBA city. I do not see a clear outlook on what will be done through and with IBA. However, Schönebeck did not join IBA until 2008. That may be the reason why I have not yet seen any results, anything tangible as to how IBA is going to change my hometown.

Info: Schönebeck (Elbe)

(Municipal Area of 2010)
1989: 46.589
2009: 34.504
2025: 26.419 (Future Prospect)

Municipal Area: 85,77 qkm