From an assembly house to a hotel..
Hotel Frederiksminde is situated on an ancient monastery area in the city of Præstø. The monastery was an Antonitter monastery, the only one in Denmark and from the construction in 1470 and demolition in 1563 was situated on the current cemetery – neighbor to Hotel Frederiksminde.
The monks also owned “convent garden” where Hotel Frederiksminde is now located.
After the Reformation the enterprising merchant Laurits Nielsen, bought the empty slot of soil, which was the monastery garden, with the intension of building a park for the city’s benefit. This was not done, when his son Jens Lauritzen in 1659 got the land as security for 4.000 DKKs, which he had lent to King Frederick III for wages and maintenance in the “Carl-Gustav wars” that ravaged the city Præstø badly. The area went back to the city and hoarded over a long period as a cultivated field, now called “Klostervang”.
In the majority of the 1700 there was, where the school is now located, a number of dragoon barracks housing between 100 & 150 soldiers, a stable, and an officer building. It was roughly located where the hotel is today.
The area zoned as cabbage garden for the dragoons diet. The dragoons left the city at the end of 1700, and the citizens gradually began, not least because of its location, to be interested in its appearance.
From the royal nurseries in “Hørsholm” and “Petersgaard” the convent garden was planted with 1500 different plants for the beautification of the areas. Now there gradually arose a desire for a building.
A pavilion, where townspeople could gather in the beautiful area, and where alternative meetings could be held. When in need for a conference room, the only place in town with a larger room was the town hall. Therefore, at the initiative of the “Craftsman Association” a subscription of shares at 5 dollars among citizens took it´s beginning in 1868.
The necessary amount was thus obtained, and it was allowed to put the building on the land owned by the municipality and to plant a park. The pavilion was inaugurated second May 1870, and was named Frederiksminde because of the bust of King Frederik Vll, which was established in the park two years earlier.
The first years was financially difficult, and after 5 years passed the building ended at foreclosure. The “Craftsman Association” had from the beginning purchased shares for 400 DKK and then purchased receivables, so that they at the auction could take over the whole property for only 1.350 DKK.
The park was beautified in subsequent years with plants donated by the municipality and city residents. But soon the community found that the rooms were too small and outdated.
Thus began, in 1901, a fairly extensive renovation and extension, which gave the building the appearance it has today (Almost). In 1926 the hall was extended and the large stage was built, so the hall could accommodate 200 people, plus an additional 60 people on the balcony. In 1938 the Veranda porch was covered.
In the park there are three sculptures:
– The bust of king Frederik VII, established by Præstø Constituency. Præstø was one of those places, the king liked to get together with friends and he often went swan hunting at the bay.
– Weaver Hans Hansen from “Mern”. Hans Hansen defeated the national liberal professor H. N Clausen in the first drama of the Danish democracy in the elections to the Constituent Assembly on Præstø Square in October 1848.
– Bronze statue of “Snaphanen” Little Mads. It was donated by the “Danish – Scania” Association, and is a copy of Axel Ebbe’s statue in Hässleholm in Scania. “Little Mads” was one of the Scanian freedom fighters in the fight against the swedes, after the loss of Scania. He died a heroic death fighting on his knees with his dagger, against the Swedish supremacy in the Scanian War in 1678.
Through all the years Hotel Frederiksminde was the city’s leading hotel, where a myriad of events took place. Concerts, theater performances, festivals, meetings, proms, gymnastic displays, Christmas gatherings, etcetera. Even the written exams at Præstø school gyms were too small.
In 1973 the “Craftsman and Citizens association” sold the hotel to a consortium in connection with a major renovation of close to 400.000 DKK and ownership has changed several times until Hotel Frederiksminde, in 2003 was purchased by shipping magnate Hans Michael Jebsen.
Today Hotel Frederiksminde is managed and driven by Silje Brenna.