The Régence style Blumenstein manor house was built in 1725-1728 for the governor Franz Heinrich von Stäffis-Mollondin in the center of a 20 hectares terraced park. After Franz Heinrich's death in 1749 the estate passed to his son Joseph Lorenz von Stäffis-Mollondin. When Joseph died in 1758 without an heir the Stäffis-Mollondin family ended and the estate was divided between his daughters Johanna Karolina Anophe and Ludovika Franziska, their grandmother Jeanne Charlotte Cléophe and their mother Marie Jeanne Nicole. In 1797 Ludovika Franziska married Robert Fidel Carl Wallier von St. Aubin and the entire estate passed to the von St. Aubin family. In 1847 Ludovika Franziska died and Blumenstein passed to her sister in law Charlotte Glutz-Wallier von St. Aubin. About a decade later, in 1856, her sons Edmund, Ludwig and Alfred Glutz-Ruchti inherited the house. In 1861 Edmund bought out his brothers shares and became the only owner of Blumestein.
Edmund Glutz-Ruchti bequeathed Blumenstein in 1885 to his nephew Joseph Glutz-Ruchti. Over next decades Joseph modernized the old building and installed central heating which changed it from a summer residence into a home that was comfortable year round. He supported the renovations and lavish lifestyle by selling the furnishings and the lands around the estate. However, by the mid-1920s he was insolvent. When Joseph went bankrupt, Blumenstein was sold at auction. On 18 October 1928, the Basel architect HR Steuer bought the empty castle and the remaining garden for 400,000 Francs. The garden was divided into lots and sold as building land.
The main building and the land immediately around the building were purchased on 11 September 1933 by Fritz Hirt-Baumgartner for 85,000 francs. Over the following two decades Fritz Hirt-Baumgartner and his wife Lucie attempted to buy back all the furnishings and outbuildings from Blumenstein.
On 7 February 1951 the couple sold Blumenstein for CHF 180,000 along with its inventory for CHF 40,000 to the municipality of Solothurn. The Blumenstein Museum or Historical Museum of Solothurn opened on 3 May 1952. Fritz Hirt-Baumgartner's wife Lucie retained the right to reside in several rooms of the upper floor until her death in 1977.
Today the museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday. Admission is free and some rooms are available to rent for parties and meetings.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.