Demolition in preparation for the renovation of the 450-year-old “Old Latin School” of 1564 began in late fall of 2013 and has continued into the winter. In late October, the church plaza was prepared to handle the construction vehicles. Concrete was poured over the sand in the above photo to protect the cobblestones and the graves that are under the cobblestone—the church yard used to be a cemetery. The project is a joint project of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS), the Selbständige Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche (SELK), and Concordia Publishing House (CPH). The Old Latin School will serve as a welcome center and education venue for Lutherans and others from throughout the world. It will also serve as a platform for the gospel and will offer a variety of programs for visitors and Wittenberg-area residents when work is complete. The renovations will include a chapel/auditorium; classroom/reception hall; rooms for visiting scholars, students, and lay people; a bookstore; and more.
The Old Latin School is located in the historic old town section of Lutherstadt (Luther City) Wittenberg. It is just steps from the City Church, and within walking distance of the Lutherhaus (the Black Cloister where Luther and Katie lived), the Melanchthonhaus (the home of Luther’s close friend and fellow worker, Philipp Melanchthon) and the Castle Church (where Luther posted his 95 Theses).
Demolition has continued into the winter months as the Old Latin School continues to be prepared for renovation. The interior has had walls removed, some of the flooring has been demolished to inspect the floor joists and to make way for new floors, and an elevator shaft is under way. While the building is being prepared through the demolition process, more donations are still needed to make the refurbished Old Latin School a reality. Additionally, some surprises have slowed down the process a bit: skeletons in graves from as far back as possibly the 11th century were found during excavation for the elevator shaft. Archaeologists working with the state government are carefully excavating them and will then study the remains. The remains were buried centuries before the Old Latin School was ever built!
The renovated four-storey Old Latin School will serve as a place for scholarship, fellowship, and the proclamation of the Gospel for all! The goal is to have the center ready by May 2015, in anticipation of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017. Many other Luther sites will be reopening in 2015 and later after extensive refurbishment. German officials expect significant increases in Luther tourism with the approach of the anniversary, due to its importance.