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On February 1, 2001 the Museum of Sopot began its activity at Poniatowski St . No 8. The building which houses this new museum is an antique residence which was built in 1903 by the Sopot architect Walter Schulz for Ernst August Claaszen, a merchant from Gdansk . Luckily, the original projects of Schulz and many archival materials belonging to the founder of the residence have remained until now. Ernst Claaszen was born in 1853 in Gdansk and died in 1924 in Sopot. His wife Martha, de domo Steinmeyer, and his daughters Theodora and Ruth lived in this Sopot residence until the death of Ernst, who ran a sugar wholesaling and exporting firm. He was also a representative of one of the Berlin engine factories, and later of Daimler's, for the West Prussia area. At the beginning of the 20th century he became the Honorary Consul of U.S.A. for West Prussia . Claaszen ran his business in Gdansk , changing his address many times, but Ogarna St. was the place where his counter worked for the longest period of time. During that time, in his correspondence he used to give the address in Sopot, 8 Ernstrasse, which today is called Poniatowski St . No 8. Around the year 1910, a newly delaminated street leading from Parkstrasse (nowadays Parkowa St. ) to a seaside walk was named Ernst Claaszen St. in order to honour the owner of the lots situated there. The name of the street lasted until 1945. In 1926, after Claaszen's death, the widow sold the house to Oskar Meltzner, an entrepreneur from Gdansk . The last owner of the house, Herbert Meltzner, lived there from 1934 probably until World War II. After 1945, the residence was nationalized and became a guarded property by the government, as well as a summer seat of the communist leaders. After 1980, it was delivered to the Sopot government, which placed there the Pedagogical and Psychological Family Service Bureau for the Children of Sopot. On February 1, 2001 the building became a seat of the Museum of Sopot . Luckily, the interior of the house, due to its nearly unchanged condition, will allow the reconstruction of a rich owner's house from the beginning of the 20th century.
The villa built by Claaszen is located in the immediate vicinity of Sopot beach and has all the features typical of resorts built at the beginning of the century: a picturesque, developed body, turrets and bays, a terrace and balcony, a veranda facing towards the nearby beach, a high, steep roof and presentable functional interiors with rich stucco decoration on the ceilings, and decorative carpentry. The villa is surrounded by a wide park, which is nowadays a great attraction in an old, well preserved forest stand with many different species. Well preserved house interiors, with an almost unchanged layout, made it possible to reproduce the scheme of the summer mansion of the wealthy proprietor of the first quarter of the 20th century. It would be expedient to also recreate the historical furnishings of the representational rooms of the ground floor - the dining room, living-room, and veranda used as a winter garden and the study of the master of the house. This storey, which housed the bedrooms of the spouses and of both their daughters, are assigned as alterable exposition rooms devoted to the history of Sopot and its broadly viewed way of life, culture and tourist attractions of old resorts. An exhibition of historical interiors from the beginning of the 20th century can be viewed at the ground floor of the villa as a permanent collection. The equipment and furnishings of the entrance hallway and staircase, as well as the dining room and winter garden, living room and bedroom of the lady of the house were partially reconstructed. The reconstruction has been done on the basis of archival photographs donated to the Sopot Museum by the heirs of Ernst Claaszen - the first owner of the villa. These are the only reconstructed and publicly available historic interiors in Sopot. The Museum has been recovering more elements of the equipment and furnishings - old furniture, products of artistic craftsmanship, etc. Collections of painting, graphic art, sculpture and artistic craftsmanship illustrating and presenting the history of the city and region are collected in the Sopot Museum . Objects (paintings, graphic art, furniture, pieces of artistic craftsmanship) that were recovered during the reconstruction of the historic interiors, located at the ground floor of the villa, are in a separate collection. Apart from these works of art and artistic craftsmanship the Museum also collects materials and documents of historic value: old photographs, postcards, documents, maps and publications about Sopot and other towns (mainly sea resorts). The museum is open for visitors from Tuesday till Friday (10 a.m. - 5 p.m.) and on Saturdays and Sundays (12 p.m. - 6 p.m.). On Mondays the museum is closed. There is free admission to all events organized by the Museum of Sopot .