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150 years of the Wels hat factory: New life in a historic industrial building

150 years of the Wels hat factory: New life in a historic industrial building
150 years of the Wels hat factory: New life in a historic industrial building

Company chaplain Markus Pichler and the youth leaders of the KernZone, Cathrine Bruckschweiger and Rene Gebetsroither, work in the hat factory.

It is a colorful mixture of companies and institutions located next door to each other on the site of the former Wels hat factory Blum. An IT company, a chimney sweeping company, the Wels Women’s Health Center, a church youth center, Caritas and the company pastoral care team from mensch & arbeit. On Friday, on the occasion of “150 years of the Blum factory”, some of them gave an insight into their work and premises in the beautiful red brick buildings where workers once produced hats for the whole world.

Blum Villa is being renovated

The last heir left the site to the church for social purposes. Since 2004, extensive renovations have been carried out. Construction is currently underway again, the special needs kindergarten is getting new rooms, and next year the Blum Villa will be renovated. The site also houses a church youth center. “We have been working with the neighboring vocational school for many years, young people can spend their lunch break here, there are opportunities for discussion and advice,” say youth workers Cathrine Bruckschweiger and Rene Gebetsroither. Caritas has premises next door and offers speech therapy, social counseling, and legal advice for refugees. Donations in kind are distributed to those in need every Thursday.

The Wels & Land Volunteer Center also used the open day to present itself. “We currently have 170 volunteers working with us, for example in the visiting service for older people in homes or for ‘Visit with a Book’ with regular visits to people’s homes,” says managing director Gerlinde Hochhauser.

Michael Kitzmantel, head of the Wels city archives, informed the visitors about the 150-year history of the Wels hat factory. “At its peak, the company had 250 employees and exported to all five continents, to Egypt as well as to China, New Zealand and Tasmania. A few years after Black Friday on the New York Stock Exchange in 1929, several Wels factories closed, including the Blum factory in 1935.”

That is history, new life has long since returned to the old walls.

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Source: Nachrichten

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