Today's property "Zum Löwenzorn" at Gemsberg number 2/4 stands at the end of an eventful piece of Basel building history. During reconstruction work in 1993, hints of the early past on which the present building stands were discovered. It has been proven that in the early 14th century blacksmiths were doing their trade at this place.
What is certain is that the "Löwenzorn" was not always a single building, but rather a combination of several older houses into one large complex. Until now it was impossible to compile a seamless history of construction. A distinction is made between the buildings "Zum Weissenburg", "Zum Gunach" and "Zum dürren Sod". A part of the present property "Zum dürren Sod" seems to have extended under this name to parts of Gemsberg 4.
These parts now belong to the "Löwenzorn" and no longer form a unit with the current property Gemsberg 6, as the structural changes of the centuries apparently shifted the boundaries. The first house mentioned in writing at Gemsberg 2 is the "Hus ze Wissenburg" which was named in 1327 after its former inhabitant Konrad von Weissenburg the Carpenter. Many owners followed, among them some who had to give up the house due to financial problems. Later owners included Mayor Peter Rot (1455) and Councillor Michael Meyer, who came from an old baker family.
Fire and money worries
In the year 1495 a fire broke out in the yard "Gunach". The flames quickly spread and destroyed 36 houses and barns. Also the neighbouring part of the house "Zum dürren Sod" seems to have been damaged, although it is not documented by the house "Zum Weissenburg".
Like an evil curse, money worries followed those in whose hands the house "Zum Weissenburg" was located. At the beginning of the 16th century, the butcher Claus Pfister was faced with such financial problems that he left and simply left the property behind.
In the 17th century the property at Gemsberg came into the possession of the Mitz family where it was passed on from generation to generation. In this epoch (1781) the name "Löwenzorn" is mentioned for the first time. In 1797, the widow of the owner Daniel Mitz, who died in 1789, was forced to sell the "Löwenzorn". The new landlord was the merchant Johann Jakob Wieland. The wine merchant Johann Ulrich Noetzlin acquired the property from his descendants in 1845. In 1874 the "Löwenzorn" finally made the leap to the economy under his new owner Fritz Faesch-Salathé.
Faesch had acquired August Gaudens' brewery on Grenzacherstrasse the year before and now called it "Basler Löwen-Bräu", inspired by his new house on Gemsberg. The brewery was sold to the Warteck brewery until 1914. In 1922 the Fasnachtsclique Basler Mittwoch Gesellschaft chose the "Löwenzorn" (short "Zorn") as its new home, where Emil Bieder-Ritter ran the business.
Carnival cliques in "Löwenzorn"
The landlord fell ill shortly after the move of the BMG and finally died in his own house. The carnival guests were therefore forbidden to play Piccolo in the house for a while. BMG still uses parts of the property today, such as the "Chambre de grimasse" on the second floor, inaugurated in 1933. In the following years, the innkeepers changed frequently. Two lasted only one year, another died after two years in 1940.
At the end of the 40's a new landlord Wilhelm Koban took over the "Löwenzorn". He intended to turn the house into a pure restaurant and wanted to banish the Fasnächtler, but he did not succeed. His successor Otto Schär was now the tenant of the Feldschlösschen brewery, which had taken over the "Löwenzorn" from Warteck. In 1951, the guild of tanners moved into the first floor of the property.
The neighbouring Intarsiensaal has been used by the tailors' guild as their restaurant since 1966. Also in the traditional property at the Gemsberg the student fraternities Rauracia and Alemannia found a home. Since 1996, owners of the "Löwenzorn", they founded the public limited company "Zum Löwenzorn AG".
In 2002, the Gemsberg property number 2/4 was included in the list of monuments of the Canton of Basel-Stadt. In September 2003, the Löwenzorn was awarded a prize by ICOMOS Switzerland as a particularly historic old town restaurant.