The village of Bönnigheim with its district of Hohenstein lie in the heart of the vineyards between Stuttgart and Heilbronn. In 1946, Prof. Otto Mecheels founded the Hohenstein Institute here.
Prof. Otto Mecheels returns to his home town of Bönnigheim, together with teachers and students in their final year, following the destruction of the ´Preußische Höhere Schule für Textilindustrie´ in Mönchengladbach in 1944. They initially make use of the empty rooms of the castle there - after the end of the war, they move into the nearby Hohenstein Castle. In 1946, Prof. Otto Mecheels and his wife, Frau Lisel, nee Krempel, found the Hohenstein Research Institute [Forschungsinstitut Hohenstein] as an independent company
Foundation of the Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt Bekleidungstechnik [Education and Research Institute for Clothing Technology]. 16 students are taught here in the first semester.
The German Certification Association for Professional Textile Services is founded and awards the RAL quality label 992-1 for commercial linen. Training for textile retailers is no longer offered at Hohenstein; instead this is available at the LDT in Nagold. The first fully-functional dry cleaning plant with receiving points in the surrounding area, where students can gain their first practical experience, was probably established at Hohenstein in this year.
The Hohenstein Institute for Clothing Physiology [Bekleidungsphysiologische Institut Hohenstein e. V. (BPI)] is founded as a member of the German Federation of Cooperative Research Associations, sponsored by public organisations, and quickly makes a name for itself internationally through its work in the area of application-based research and the development of innovative products and processes.
"Charlie", the articulated dummy, a human thermoregulation model developed at the Hohenstein Institutes, complements the measurements of clothing physiological parameters carried out on the skin model to determine objective wear comfort. Charlie IV, the great, great grandchild of the 1968 articulated dummy, is now in service at the Hohenstein Institute. The Lehranstalt Hohenstein e.V. is renamed the Technische Akademie Hohenstein e.V. [Hohenstein Technical Academy].
The final class of textile trade specialists graduates from Hohenstein.
The first skin model, which uses a porous sintered metal plate to imitate the skin, significantly increases measuring accuracy when measuring the heat and moisture transport capacity of textiles. This first skin model, presented by Prof. Jürgen Mecheels, becomes the starting point for further developments which will eventually lead to the standardization of the Hohenstein model. The final class of textile engineers in the faculty of Textile Chemistry graduates from Hohenstein.
The prototype of the computer-aided compression measuring device, HOSY, developed at the Hohenstein Institute, goes into operation. It enables the compression behaviour of compression stockings to be calculated and recorded accurately, non-destructively and over the entire length of the stocking in a single operation for the first time.
Prof. Jürgen Mecheels receives the Bundesverdienstkreuz am Bande (Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany) and retires from the management of the Hohenstein Institutes. His son, Dr. Stefan Mecheels, is the third generation to take over directorship of the company. He studied mechanical engineering in Stuttgart followed by applied economics in Bamberg, and joined the company in 1988.
As the final class of clothing technicians graduate, the Hohenstein Technical Academy ceases its regular education programme. A broad range of practical seminars and advanced training events continue to be offered, however. Within 3 months, the microbiological laboratory of the newly founded Institute for Hygiene and Biotechnology (IHB) is established in the William-Küster building. In future, the microbiological evaluations for the German Certification Association for Professional Textile Services, amongst other tests, will be carried out here. The first overseas office of the Hohenstein Institutes is founded in Turkey.
The Hohenstein Institutes Textile Testing Services in Apex are now responsible for providing customer support in the USA.
The Competence Centre for Textiles and the Skin is founded at the first conference on Textiles and the Human Skin in Apolda. Members include the Hohenstein Institutes, the German Textile Research Centre North West (DTNW) in Krefeld and the University of Jena. In Peru, the Instituto Textil Hohenstein is the first overseas branch of the Hohenstein Institutes to open in Latin America.
The Hohenstein Institute México now offers advice to clients from Mexico, in particular, regarding services offered by Hohenstein.
The Institute for Hygiene and Biotechnology (IHB) becomes an independent department. Since 1996, numerous clients from around the world in both the textile and healthcare industry have been using the independent tests offered by the IHB to ensure safety in the application of new and existing products. The IHB also carries out microbiological tests for the German Certification Association for Professional Textile Services. The Hohenstein Institutes take over the Hungarian test laboratory, Innovatext, in Budapest. The Instituto Hohenstein Brazil in São Paulo is the fourth overseas branch office to open in North and Latin America following on from the USA (1999), Peru (2002) and Mexico (2003). The Hohenstein Institute Vietnam, based in Hanoi, offers support to clients throughout Asia. The Hohenstein Institute Bangladesh opens in Dhaka, providing the Hohenstein Institutes’ clients on the Indian subcontinent with in-depth support.
Following a long illness, Prof. Jürgen Mecheels, former head of the Hohenstein Institutes and an internationally recognised scientist in textile research, dies on 31 July 2006, aged 78. The Hohenstein Institutes' site is nominated as a “Selected place in the Land of Ideas” and is one of the 365 places picked to represent the wealth of ideas and the creativity of Germany in the year of the football World Cup. At the open day on 28 January, over 4,500 visitors come to Schloss Hohenstein. Branches of the Hohenstein Institutes are opened in India and Sri Lanka.
Through increased focus on the “Hohenstein” brand and by re-designing the company logo accordingly, the Hohenstein Institutes emphasise their successful transformation from a German research and testing institute to a global provider of highly-specialised services with respect to textile-related issues. Another expression of further strategic developments is the founding of the “Hohenstein Textile Testing Institute GmbH & Co. KG”. The testing and services offered by the former Material Testing Department at the Hohenstein Institutes are transferred to the new company on 1 December 2008. Customers of the Hohenstein Institutes are now served by 19 branch offices in 17 different countries. The Institute for Hygiene and Biotechnology was selected as a “Place in the Land of Ideas” and opened its laboratories to the general public on 18 February.
In view of the increasingly international orientation of the Hohenstein Institutes, some of the business units of the International Textile Research and Services Centre have been renamed as of 1 January 2010. The main focus of the renaming was to strengthen the umbrella brand name of “Hohenstein”. In future, the following companies will operate under the brand name: Hohenstein Laboratories GmbH & Co. KG (previously Hohenstein Research Institute Prof. Dr. Jürgen Mecheels GmbH & Co. KG) Hohenstein Institut für Textilinnovation e.V. (Hohenstein Institute for Textile Innovation) (previously Hohenstein Institute for Clothing Physiology) Hohenstein Academy e.V. (previously Hohenstein Technical Academy e.V.) Hohenstein Textile Testing Institute GmbH & Co. KG
When Prof. Otto Mecheels moves into the rooms of Hohenstein Castle with his family and around 60 students and teaching and research staff, it still bears all the signs of damage from the war, such as a hole in the roof of the castle and the burnt out wine press. The castle was practically stripped bare at the end of the war.
Prof. Otto Mecheels buys the castle which has now become state property. A Kübler-prefabricated building houses the Contex (textile manufacture) where paid needlework is carried out for R&A Becker. The premises subsequently house the chemical laboratory for textile engineers as of 1955, the Bekleidungstechnikum as of 1957 and the canteen as of 1963. The building is demolished in 1985 to make way for a new building (the Kavaliersbau).
Two Kübler-prefabricated buildings are erected on the East side of the castle on the site of the former vegetable garden. Today, these house part of the department of Clothing Technology. The wine press, burnt out in the war, is also rebuilt and initially houses the hall and teaching rooms for the Lehranstalt Hohenstein e.V. [Hohenstein Academy]. In 1979, the building is converted to a technical laboratory for the department of Consumer Tests.
The castle is painted in a light baroque yellow. The William-Küster-Bau, named after the famous chemist and PhD supervisor of Otto Mecheels, is built. This offers additional teaching rooms as well as housing the laboratory for the chemical department. After conversion in 1995, the building is used by the Institute for Hygiene and Biotechnology and the department of Clothing Physiology.
The Technical Academy is originally a two-storey building, offering space for two more lecture theatres, a chemical laboratory and offices. In 1969, an additional storey is added and in 1984 an underground extension is added to accommodate laboratories and storerooms. Using Schloss Langenburg at Öhringen as a model, a balcony is added to the west wall of the castle in Prof. Jürgen Mecheels' family's living quarters.
Due to an acute lack of space, Prof. Jürgen Mecheels' family are forced to move after 15 years at the castle. Following the move, the rooms on the first floor are used by the Hohenstein Institutes' management.
The prefabricated building erected in 1954, which was initially used to carry out paid needlework for R&A Becker which housed the chemical laboratory for textile engineers as of 1955, the Bekleidungstechnikum as of 1957 and the canteen as of 1963 is demolished to make way for a new building, known as the Kavaliersbau.
Hedwig Mecheels, the widow of Prof. Otto Mecheels, moves out of the castle into a retirement home. The rooms of her former apartment are now used for the management and executive secretariat.
The Chemical Research Laboratory in Building 6 undergoes a thorough renovation. The laboratories and workrooms on the third floor east of the castle and the archives in the attic storey are modernised, and a staircase to the attic storey is installed.
On 18 April 2006, the first sod is turned for the construction of a new services and research building, to have a surface area of about 1700 m2. One of the purposes of the building is to replace the containerised offices that have been used by the Clothing Technology department since 1995. Completion is in 2007.
In the presence of the Baden Württemberg Minister of Economic Affairs Ernst Pfister and numerous friends of the Hohenstein Institutes, the new service and innovation building, known as the `Josef-Kurz-Bau´ is inaugurated on the southern slope of the castle hill on 28.9.2007. In the naming of the building, the Mecheels family pay tribute to Prof Josef Kurz for over 50 years of fruitful work for the Hohenstein Institutes. The new building provides around 1,700 m² of additional laboratory, office and warehouse space which will be used by 45 members of staff in the departments of Material Testing, Clothing Technology, Clothing Physiology and Textile Services and Innovations. The cost of the building and its fixtures and fittings amount to 3.7 million Euros. The Landesstiftung Baden-Württemberg (Baden-Württemberg state foundation) also makes available funds amounting to 1.5 million Euros for this non-profit-making branch of research for the acquisition of new scientific equipment.
The roof and frontage of the Schloss Hohenstein are being entirely refurbished. The colour scheme is similar to the original appearance of the building. On 10 July, “time capsules”were placed in the spires of the towers. Roof area: approx. 950 m² Roof tiles used: 29,000 for the main roof, 13,000 for the towers Weight of the roof tiles used (plain tiles): 45 tonnes for the main roof, 14 tonnes for the towers Weight of the mineral paint used: 950 kg Total length of the roof battens used: approx. 6,700 m
The Otto Mecheels building with a floor area of 2,580 m2 is officially opened on 28 October. It houses offices for around 160 employees as well as the central goods reception and a modern block heating plant. The investment sum of around EUR 9 million is the largest in the history of the Hohenstein Institute.
The Celts establish the first settlements, with a refuge and a shrine with a sacrificial altar on Michelsberg
Occupation by the Romans. Shortly afterwards, a road is constructed and the Limes Wall is erected.
The fall of the Roman empire. The Alemanni come to power in the region.
The Franks defeat the ruling Alemanni. The defeated Alemanni have to surrender part of their territories to the Franks.
After further military defeats of the Alemanni, the entire realm now falls to the Franks. The territory is divided into counties. The village of Hohenstein originally belongs to the county of Lauffen and later to Enzau under the count of Vaihingen.
In order to protect the peasants in the region, knights construct small fortresses - including Hohenstein castle.
The original name of Hohenstein ´Howenstein´ is mentioned for the first time in a document at the Maulbronn Cistercian monastery (now a UNESCO world heritage site, situated around 30 km from Hohenstein). Geroldus von Howenstein is named as the castle owner. There is no picture of the fortress, but it is likely that it had a mighty keep which could be seen from all the surrounding countryside.
After the knights of Howenstein have died out, the count of Württemberg annexes the fortress of Hohenstein.
The manor of Hohenstein is sold in equal halves to the barons of Lienenheim and Talheim.
As the fortress is no longer occupied by its actual owner, it is increasingly neglected and gradually falls into ruin.
The feudal estate of Hohenstein reverts to Württemberg. Herr von Plieningen (village near Stuttgart neighbouring Hohenheim) constructs Hohenstein castle on the site of the fortress of Hohenstein, which has been totally destroyed.
The village church in Hohenstein is constructed.
Hans von Plieningen the vain becomes sole master of Hohenstein.
Following defeat to the Protestant troops on 6 and 9 September, the region is devastated twice as a result of plundering.
Hohenstein is ceded completely to Herzog Eberhard Württemberg and is purchased by the Widow Anna Marie Jakob on 14 May 1641.
The castle is plundered by troops from Kurbayern.
The lords of the castle of Hohenstein establish their own cemetery. Previously, they were buried at the cemetery in Kirchheim.
The elder daughter of the Widow Jakob, Antonie, marries baron Eberhard Ernst von Gaisberg.
In March, King Ludwig XIV's troops attack and devastate the region.
The castles of Heidelberg and Hohenstein are plundered and burnt down by troops under the French General Mélac.
Under the Widow Maria Magdalena von Gaisberg, the totally destroyed castle is rebuilt in a simple Renaissance style with two residential towers and a stair tower. The former East wing is not rebuilt. The building works represent the final chapter in the architectural history of the castle and represent the exterior of the castle we see today.
As a baron von Schütz-Pflummern married into the Gaisberg family and the Gaisbergs have no male heirs, the entire property now passes into the hands of the von Schütz-Pflummerns, who retain ownership until 1942.
Feudal tithes are no longer payable to the individual lords of the castle, but are paid directly to the dukes or the kings.
The manor is sold to the electoral prince, Friedrich von Württemberg.
The village and castle are plundered by the French cavalry.
1913-1919 Interrupted by the First World War, the castle undergoes extensive renovation, both internally and externally, under August Wilhelm Schott von Pflummern. Work includes adding panelled walls in what is now the executive secretariat and stuccoed ceilings in what is now the conference room. The external shot dates from around 1920; the vineyards at the castle on the side of the path are still there, but the servants' houses have now been demolished.
The first aerial photograph of Hohenstein castle shows the castle's wine press. The vineyards on the village side extend as far as the castle walls. The vegetable garden below the wine press is removed in 1954. In its place, a building for what was then known as the Lehranstalt Hohenstein [Hohenstein Academy] is erected.
Following the death of their parents, Ruth and Isabella Schott von Pflummern inherit the castle and are forced to sell it to the NSDAP's women's movement, the Deutsche Frauenwerk, due to the high taxes. The fields and vineyards belonging to the castle estate are let on lease. The castle is camouflaged as protection against air-raids.