18th and 19th centuries: From the Great Dutch House to local court and prison

The front building at Lindenstrasse 54 – a Baroque Dutch style town residence – was erected between 1734 and 1737 for King Frederick William I of Prussia. After the City Palace, the Great Dutch House was the most imposing building in Potsdam. In November 1738, the King decreed that the residence be handed over to the Potsdam Treasury. As House of the Commandant, Lindenstrasse 54 subsequently served as the residence of the commandant of the royal guard.

On 24 October 1806, after the defeat of the Prussian army at the battle of Jena-Auerstedt, Napoleon’s troops occupied Potsdam. Until their withdrawal in autumn 1808, the House of the Commandant, with its yard and stables, functioned as a uniform store and equine hospital for the French army.

After the end of the Napoleonic occupation, the Prussian municipal ordinance came into force on 19 November 1808 in the course of the Prussian reforms. For the first time, a city council convened in Potsdam. The first meeting took place in the assembly hall at Lindenstrasse 54 on 20 March 1809. Potsdam City Council held its meetings here until 1817, when it moved to the town hall on the old market square. In a reciprocal move, the municipal court, which until then had convened at the town hall, was allocated the Lindenstrasse site as its official premises.

The building conversion work lasted three years. The front house became the court building and the stables and yard were converted into a prison. In 1820, the municipal court and prison moved into their new premises. The building complex was continuously expanded. In 1843 the city also transferred the neighbouring property at Lindenstrasse 55 to the judiciary. Before that, the building at Lindenstrasse 55 had been a school.

In the course of the Prussian judicial reform in 1849, the municipal court became the district court. Apart from the city itself, the Potsdam judicial circuit now also covered 54 villages, 15 settlements and various estates. Between 1852 and 1854 the court building and prison once more underwent conversion work and expansion.

After the foundation of the German Reich in 1872, the Reich judicial constitution was introduced in 1879 and new judicial authorities were established. The district court became Potsdam local court, and the building also temporarily housed the regional court.

The last major renovation works at Lindenstrasse 54/55 during the German Empire (1871-1918) were carried out between 1907 and 1910. A larger prison was constructed in the yard. The regional court prison was now in line with the standards of late nineteenth century penitentiary buildings and comprised 64 single cells, six four-person cells, sanitary units, cellars and utility rooms as well as a chapel on the upper floor and a house for civil service employees.

During the Weimar Republic, Lindenstrasse 54/55 housed the criminal division of the local court and the regional court prison. In 1930, a labour court was also set up here.