1912-1917: the major Kurhaus extension
At the start of the 20th century, there was a desire for additional contemporary premises; furthermore, the south wing with the restaurant was in urgent need of refurbishment.
Professor August Stürzenacker supplied an ideal solution in 1908 and fulfilled the city's wish to have a large and small hall for concerts, theatre productions, balls, congresses and gala dinners. At the same time, his plans for the new buildings ensured that the symmetry and facade of the Weinbrenner building would be retained.
The lower foyer
Today's main entrance was created as part of Stürzenacker's construction project. On entering the building today, attention is still drawn directly into the inner hall and to the staircase. This was when the basic colours of black, green and brass were introduced to the entrance hall. It is also worth mentioning that already back in 1911, Stürzenacker provided access for the disabled and installed a lift for wheelchair users and those with impaired mobility.
The Bel Etage
Built originally as an upper floor for the restaurant, the Bel Etage today still looks almost as it did on completion, with the only difference being the strong colours used back then with violet, gold, orange and white. The planners intended that these "upper" rooms should be used mainly for festive meals.
The large and small theatre
The theatre was added to the back of the old complex so as not to make the original building any higher. As a result, even today the Kurhaus does not immediately reveal its true size when seen from the outside. The large theatre (today's Bénazetsaal) was designed and built by Professor Stürzenacker with the coffered ceiling it still has today. In front of it was a small theatre, separated from the large theatre by retractable doors. The maximum capacity back then was for audiences of 1,230. However, the rows of chairs were screwed down so that the rooms could not be put to any multipurpose.
The colour scheme in those days was darker than today; the dark cherry wood has gone, along with the dark green curtains. The coffered ceiling back then was kept in dark colours of brown and gold.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the large theatre acted as a venue for major concerts and resplendent theatre performances, as well as elaborate operas and operettas.
The Bäder- und Kurverwaltung was founded in 1934 as a public law institution with the city and state as partners; the latter contributed the Kurhaus including spa garden.
1935-37: addition of the Runder Saal and Konferenzsaal
Additional premises were needed for dances and congresses, so that the decision was taken to add a further extension. Before work could begin, first of all 7,500 cubic metres of earth and rocks had to be removed. The planning was once again entrusted to Professor Stürzenacker. The large chandelier and the parquet dance floor made of different types of German wood are all that remain from the old furnishings. The wall paintings in the recesses depicting the four seasons were produced by the artist Erich Sperling.
Initially, the adjoining terrace garden was still frequently used for events; however, these entertainments soon came to an end because the neighbours kept on complaining about the noise at night.
Fortunately, the plans of some national socialists to demolish the old Kurhaus and put a new building in its place failed to come to fruition.
Wartime and occupation
The Kurhaus remained in use despite the start of the Second World War, continuing even after the Berlin government ordered the end of the spa and gambling activities in October 1944.
But all this came to a halt when the city was occupied in 1945. The Kurhaus was confiscated and used by the French military government until 1949. The Kurhaus was the focus of the cultural activities pursued by the military powers.
Source: Robert Erhard "Aus der Chronik der Kaiserallee", part 2