Nsays Heribert Dämgen, no, the monument protection office doesn’t like the roof at all. But what should he do? A restorer had calculated that a new roof structure plus slate shingles would cost forty-five thousand euros. He didn’t have that much money. And couldn’t get it anywhere. Commitments from the German Monument Foundation were withdrawn, the district administration only wanted to participate under conditions that he could not possibly meet, and he was unable to get funds from the pots for priority communities or village renewals. Heribert Dämgen had to deal with the authorities for seven years before he quickly covered the roof with sheet metal. “I had to keep the house dry,” he says.
The little house with house number 43 is on the outskirts of Gehlweiler vis-à-vis the old stone bridge over the Simmernbach. Nobody knows when it came from. Definitely from the eighteenth century, maybe the seventeenth. The half-timbering is painted red, the facade is white, at least where the clay and straw are not sticking out of the wall. The entrance is narrow, the floorboards creak, the rooms are cramped. But it’s like stepping into a fairytale world, furnished with simple, raw wood furniture that’s more practical than pretty. Stoneware crockery stands on shelves, a cast-iron pot sits on the hearth, and a rusty candlestick hangs above the dining table. The only decoration are faded ornaments on the wall. You can’t look outside because the panes are varnished to make them blind. Patched cracks in the glass are faked with putty. It is the grace of poverty that has taken shape here. Then Mr. Dämgen says: “Of course everything is scenery.”