Seen from the Isar, St. Lukas has shaped the silhouette of the Lehel since 1896. From the outside, the “Cathedral of the Munich Protestants” has appeared in fresh splendor since the renovation of the facades ten years ago. Inside, on the other hand, the splendor is getting on in years, an extensive renovation should actually start in 2021 and cost 15 million euros, of which the federal government will pay 7.5 million, after all the sacred building in the style of late historicism has been considered a “monument of national importance” since 2019 Meaning”.
But both the project itself and the financing from various sources are becoming increasingly difficult, the schedule can no longer be met and therefore the financial framework can no longer be met. Nevertheless, Pastor Helmut Gottschling and the parish are hoping for construction to start in 2023 – and for the financial support of the Munich and German Foundation for Monument Protection (DSD).
Some of the work takes place behind the scenes, but they also aim to preserve a spatial impression that is less sober, one might almost say more “Catholic” than in other Protestant places of worship. Towards the end of the 19th century, Munich’s Protestant community had grown to almost a seventh of the city’s population and confidently set an architectural mark that was intended to impress the Catholic establishment without alienating or provoking it. A program that is reflected in the pre-Reformation style, Romanesque on the outside and Gothic on the inside, but also in details such as a figure of St. Peter to the left of the main portal and the altar.
The Ur-Pope as a fellow church patron is not part of the standard equipment of Protestant churches and should be understood as a deliberate ecumenical gesture, explains Pastor Gottschling. It is also no coincidence that in 1893 the congregation hired Albert Schmidt as master builder, who shortly before had demonstrated his flair for non-Catholic sacred architecture with the main synagogue destroyed by the Nazis in 1938. Apart from the large rosettes and windows, the building survived the war and in the 1960s an anteroom was added, which today forms a buffer to the roaring traffic on Steinsdorfstrasse.
In recent years, however, problems have emerged, most clearly visible in the form of stress cracks and dirt adhesions, the latter caused by the circulation of the warm air heating. A more serious problem finally became apparent at Christmas 2019 of all times, when the gallery had to be closed due to initially unexplained static problems. It soon turned out that although there was no acute danger of collapse or falling rocks, there was an urgent need for action to secure the dome vault.
The load-bearing ribs and arches should stand out more clearly after the refurbishment, in the spirit of Albert Schmidt, behind whose original intentions the refurbishment planner Arno Lederer wants to step back as much as possible – he recently gave his own signature with the new Volkstheater in der Tumblingerstrasse set. The color design is currently being tested on test fields, as is a cleaning process in which a plastic layer is sprayed onto the stone surfaces and later removed again together with the dirt particles.
A new, warm water-supported heating system under the pews based on district heating is intended to prevent new pollution and heat the room more efficiently. The richly decorated benches made of dark glazed oak with their 1500 seats are also being renovated. They are a defining element of the interior design and at the same time a burden when it comes to using the church space not only in a sacred manner, but also as part of an extensive cultural program. In order to be able to use the space more flexibly, four rows of benches under the side galleries are removed and stored.
The church should remain accessible as far as possible during the expected two-year construction phase, at least temporarily. Pastor Gottschling hopes for occasional “construction site services”. Hopefully the basement room under the altar, where homeless women find refuge from October to March, can also be kept open with clever timing. This should be renovated in the summer if possible. The project does bring a subtle change to the exterior design. The outdated, non-barrier-free toilets next to the main portal will be replaced by new, larger facilities in two lateral satellite buildings, accessible through the previous toilet entrances.
According to previous calculations, the interior renovation will cost 14 million euros, of which one million goes to the scaffolding alone. The renovation of the 90-year-old organ is likely to cost another million. The German Foundation for Monument Protection, the largest private initiative for the preservation of monuments in Germany, has promised support for this in particular. Inflation and the explosion in costs in the construction industry are, of course, putting a big question mark behind the 15 million forecast. The municipality is therefore not only appealing to its members, but to the entire city society with an appeal for donations. Information on this is available at www.sanktlukas.de or www.denkmalschutz.de.
Whether the now planned start of construction at the beginning of 2023 can be maintained also remains open in the crisis. One is an active community, but if necessary also “good at waiting”, said Pastor Gottschling. After the start of construction for the 125th anniversary in 2021 did not work out, there is still hope of a reopening to celebrate the 130th anniversary in 2026.