Pfarrhof Melk

LOCATION

Melk Presbytery is on a prominent site in the town centre. To the north, its imposing, late Baroque facade looks out onto the main square; the church square and the towers of the parish church are to the east, and to the south lie the rectory garden, nestled against the south wall of the carriage house and east wing, and other parts of the former town wall (in this section, only a turret, known as the “Post Tower”, remains.) To the west, neighbouring buildings cluster around the Presbytery.

HISTORY

Melk Presbytery was founded by the diocese of Passau. It was probably established in the 11th century: a priest was first appointed in 1165. The diocese transferred it to the Benedictine monastery in 1693 as part of an exchange. The first verifiable church with parish rights (St. Stephen's) was located on the ridge east of the castle and the monastery (from 1089). The arduous walk to St. Stephen's Church prompted the citizens to build a chapel in the market town itself in the late 13th century; in around 1400, it was consecrated “to the honour of Our Lady”. In 1450, construction began on the Church of the Assumption of Mary. It was completed with the installation of the altars in 1481. In 1508, it became the parish church. Its predecessor, St. Stephen's, presumably as a result of this, gradually decayed and was abandoned; its exact location is no longer known today. Few accounts of the Presbytery survive. In 1313, Father Albrecht stipulated that the “house on the hill” (now incorporated into the property at Sterngasse 19) would be used as a presbytery. In around 1575, this building came into the possession of the Springer family, leading to plans to build the Presbytery in its current location, near the parish church. The entire Presbytery was destroyed in a huge fire on 15 February 1548. This event must also have affected the old Presbytery at Sterngasse 19. With the incorporation of the parish of Melk, the Abbey also purchased the Presbytery in 1694 from the diocese of Passau. The parish records describe it as being in danger of collapsing in 1752. The Viennese architect Matthias Gerl was commissioned to design a new building. On 3 June 1752, Abbot Thomas Pauer laid the foundation stone, and the basic structure was completed by autumn that year. Another major fire in 1847 damaged the Presbytery, but catastrophe was averted: the caretaker from Luberegg and the fire hose from Leiben Manor saved the building. However, the fire destroyed the tower of the parish church including the belfry.

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