Richard Langensiepen
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One of those visitors was Karl Ferdinand Richard Langensiepen (18/03/1854 – 04/07/1920), a German industrialist from Magdeburg who was involved in the manufacture of machinery, steel and casting. Paula Budenberg, Langensiepen’s wife, was a daughter of Christiana Friedrich Budenberg, a member of the Magdeburg city council and industrialist. He co-owned the Schäffer und Budenberg company, which held the patent for membrane manometers and produced them together with steam boilers. The company had its branches in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Zurich, London, Manchester and New York.

Being so well connected through family ties, it is no wonder he became so successful. In his Magdeburg factory, he manufactured pumps and combustion engines to supply the growing demand of heavy industry, which was rapidly adapting to the combustion technology and leaving the steam engine behind.

At the end of the 19th century, Magdeburg was one of the major centres of heavy and machinery industries. The city was home to Alfred Krupp’s Industries – a leading manufacturer of steel and machinery, Hemann Gruson’s factory specialising in rail engine production followed by heavy armoured weapons.

As for Langensiepen, the successful industrialist sold his products (pumps, engines, lathes and tool machines) throughout the European continent. It is evident from professional catalogues that he also supplied weaving machines to some of the textile manufactures in Łódź. However, it seems that his greatest success was doing business in the Imperial Russia. His company had its branches in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Riga, Nizhny Novogrod, Vladivostok and Baku.

Image: “Gardone Mittele’Europea” Attilio Mazza

Image: “Gardone Mittele’Europea” Attilio Mazza

Image: “Gardone Mittele’Europea” Attilio Mazza

It was Baku where Langensiepen supplied pumps for the rapidly developing oil industry. At some point in his career, his trading partner was Alfred Nobel himself. After a very serious fire in his Magdeburg factory, he decided to move production to Russia. The move proved to be an ingenious strategy as producing locally meant avoiding heavy import tax, which other foreign manufacturers could not get away with. Business went so well that Langensiepen was even awarded a contract of the Imperial Army supplier. It is quite certain that the supplies were not limited to canteens, buttons or belt buckles but also included the so-called ‘special products’, which meant weapons and technologies used by the Russian military. Langensiepen must have been held in very high regard as the Tzar himself awarded him a Medal of Merit for exceptional contribution to the development of industry. Only four foreigners received such honours, one of them being Alfred Nobel. Later on, Langensiepen received an exclusive title to ‘attach’ his private rail carriage to any train that was at least three carriages long.

So how did such a busy man end up on the shore of Lake Garda? As mentioned before, in order to popularise Gardone, Wimmer invited his friends, colleagues and acquaintances, most of whom he met while working on railway construction projects. Langensiepen, who supplied pumps and engines for such undertakings, must have belonged to the group of businessmen who, at some point, crossed paths with Wimmer. It was most probably through his business connections that Langensiepen arrived in Gardone, a place that he immediately fell in love with and decided to move in with his family as well as establish the headquarters of his company. The first to arrive was Langensiepen’s wife Paula, who, concerned about their son’s health, brought him to spend a winter there. She was accompanied by her sister Alwyn, who was married to Otto Arnold, Langensiepen’s business partner.

Image: Baltische Monatsschrift, Februar 1912, Jahrgang 54, Verlag: Jonck& Poliewsky, Riga

Langensiepen employed a very methodical approach to his investment in Gardone. He appointed Hermann Ludwig Schafer, the son of Bernhard Schafer, his father-in-law’s business partner, as the main architect. In 1900, he purchased from Dr Ludwig Rhodon a 7 hectare plot of land with access to the lake adjacent to the Grand Gardone Hotel. The parcel, slightly descending towards the shore, had several buildings, which were erected in the 17th century and surrounded by a park (present day Villa Ruhland). The buildings constituted a complex of the summer residence of the Beschi family from Castiglione delle Stivere, that is Padua. Dr Rhodon bought the property from the Beschi family and settled in the estate they originally built.

It is clear that Dr Rhodon was not only a medicine man but also a businessman. Purchasing the land from the Beschi family was a premeditated move with the goal of selling it on at a later time, an understandable investment strategy. The same strategy was employed by the ‘first’ settler families of Wimmers, Fuchses and Koenigers.