September 4th, 1823 was market day. At 9 o’clock in the morning a fire broke out in what is now number 18 Ludwigstraße. Unfortunately there was a strong wind, so that the fire spread rapidly. All 9 fire department pump carts were deployed, but to no avail. The fire-fighting operations were greatly hampered by the many townspeople who were frantically occupied with removing their own belongings to a safe place. By 4 p.m. much of the town had been reduced to ashes, about 300 dwellings and an equal number of outhouses were destroyed. In the meantime firefighting teams from outside Hof had arrived to help save the remaining buildings from the fire. As by a miracle, the blaze only caused minor injuries. Only the couple who lived in the tower of St. Michael’s Church and had spent hours ringing the bell to warn the townspeople of the fire could not be saved.
The big city fire
Destruction and Renewal
The fire resulted in tremendous losses to personal assets, especially because insurances in those days only covered the buildings themselves but not their contents. Many a citizen had to spend the winter in vaults or under makeshift wooden roofs. The authorities tried to help by giving loans and granting remission of fees that were due. Hof’s Auguststraße is named after the King of Saxony, who gave very generous financial support to the townspeople.
In the course of the reconstruction of the town, the alignment of buildings was straightened out and the houses were erected in a uniform architectural style, creating a completely new townscape in the style of bourgeois classicism. Hof’s town hall and St. Michael’s Church had also been badly affected. The church got a new shape as the nave was considerably widened and the town hall was made to match the church’s gothic style with a new roof construction which was considerably lower than before the fire. Ludwigstraße got its homogenous appearance through the reconstruction after the fire and the whole street is now under monumental protection.