Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps & the Bronner Family Celebrate Opening of their Restored Ancestral Home and Museum in Laupheim, Germany with Partners

St. Elisabeth Foundation to Provide Residences for Adults with Special Needs in the Newly Renovated Building

June 10, 2024

LAUPHEIM, GERMANY – Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, the maker of the top-selling natural brand of soaps in North America, and a popular personal care brand in Germany, held a series of grand opening celebrations in Laupheim, Germany from May 27—28, 2024. The events brought together company leadership and Bronner family members from the U.S. and Israel to mark the completion of the recent restoration of the home where the Bronner family first began making soap in 1858. The Bronner Haus now houses a residential home for adults with special needs as well as a new Dr. Bronner’s Museum. To view and download photos of the house and opening events, available for media use, please go to the images section of Dr. Bronner’s Media Center, under “Bronner Haus:” https://info.drbronner.com/media-center/images/.

 

“The Bronner Haus symbolizes the city’s rich Jewish history, the horrors of the Shoah and the path to reconciliation. It is also an architectural highlight,” said Ingo Bergman, the mayor of the city of Laupheim, who joined the events last week.

 

The upper levels of the home, run by St. Elisabeth Foundation, provide residences for adults with special needs. The basement of the home is dedicated to the Dr. Bronner’s Museum which houses a permanent educational exhibit about the Bronner family’s soapmaking history and the business of Dr. Bronner’s.

 

“We are very happy that our residents have been filling the Bronner Haus at Judenberg with life since April! We have already had many wonderful encounters in our new social space and are delighted to be able to work in a house with a great history,” said Julia Schenzle of St. Elisabeth Foundation, the Head of Wohngemeinschaft Emanuel, the name of the residences on the main floors of the Bronner Haus.

 

The Bronner family traces its history in the soapmaking business back to 1858 in Laupheim, Germany, where Emanuel Heilbronner, grandfather of the founder of the company, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, first began making soap. After receiving his certification as a master soapmaker from the guild headquarters in Ulm, Germany, he established his soapmaking operation in the basement of his house in Laupheim. In the floors above, he and his wife Louise raised their 11 children. At least five of his 11 children continued in the soapmaking tradition. The family also expanded their soapmaking operations to Heilbronn, Germany, and in 1929 grandson Emanuel Bronner migrated to the United States, bringing with him the formulas for high-quality liquid and bar soaps with which he would eventually establish his own soapmaking operation.

 

After his parents and other family members perished in the Holocaust, Emanuel Bronner spent his life renouncing hate and war on a personal mission to unite mankind. In the 1940s he made a name for himself through speaking about his personal philosophy, calling on humanity to realize their transcendent unity across religious and ethnic divides. His strong views and lectures landed him in a mental asylum in Chicago. He escaped and moved to California, starting the Dr. Bronner’s company in 1948. He gave the soap away during his talks but soon realized people were taking it without listening to him speak. As a result, he started printing his philosophy, the Moral ABC, on the bottle in tiny script, which is still used on Dr. Bronner’s packaging today.

 

In the late 1960s, soap sales started to explode, due to the unsurpassed ecological quality combined with Emanuel Bronner’s urgent message. Word-of-mouth soon made Dr. Bronner’s the iconic soap of that era, and in the decades that followed the soaps spread into every health food store in the U.S. and then into the mainstream as well.

 

“The story of the Bronner Family is an extraordinary part of the history of Laupheim,” says Anke Buhl, Managing Director of Dr. Bronner’s Europe and project manager of the restoration of ‘Haus Emanuel’ and the Dr. Bronner’s museum of Laupheim. “Preserving this history allows us to learn from those who came before us. The success of the Dr. Bronner’s company and the journey of the Bronner family is a testament to human resilience. We were so proud to celebrate the restoration of their ancestral home and are excited to contribute this preservation of history to the Laupheim community.”

 

In 2017, the current leadership of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, David and Michael Bronner were given the opportunity to buy and restore their ancestral family home. David and Michael purchased the original Heilbronner home in Laupheim from a kind local resident who was considering selling the building to developers. She heard the Bronner family story and offered to sell it back to the family instead. After nearly seven years of planning and renovations, the restored building officially opened its doors, with a grand opening celebration held in Laupheim at the house and in neighboring venues from May 27—29, 2024.

 

“We are grateful to the many partners who made the restoration of our ancestral family home possible,” says Michael Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner’s and grandson of company founder Emanuel Bronner. “Our roots in Germany are so important to our family and our company as a global brand. Germany has a great tradition when it comes to natural cosmetics and personal care products, and we are proud to be part of it. With the renovation of the Bronner House, our family’s original soapmaking address in Laupheim will now be on every bottle of soap we sell in Germany and throughout Europe.”

 

The Dr. Bronner’s Museum houses a permanent exhibit totaling 45 square meters of space and is now open to the public. It features two rooms, one with displays and information about the history of the Bronner Family and their soap making traditions, and the second room will feature screens on which to view short films produced about Dr. Bronner’s mission, the Bronner Haus, and family history, with the viewing controlled by a large replica Dr. Bronner’s bottle with touch-activated zones that prompt the different films to start playing.

 

“We are so grateful to The City of Laupheim, as well as our construction partners, our architects and designers including Schmid Bau, Frener & Reifer, Lahaye-Tiedemann, and so many others who made this unique project possible,” Michael Bronner continued. “We are honored to memorialize our family soapmaking history in Laupheim while providing a home for special needs community members in partnership with the St. Elisabeth Foundation. The community of Laupheim has been so welcoming to us!”

 

The museum (Judenberg 2, Laupheim) is open by appointment only. Reservations can be made by e-mail to museum@drbronner.eu.

 

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About Dr. Bronner’s

Founded in the U.S. in 1948, Dr. Bronner’s is the top-selling natural brand of soap in North America, maker of exceptional fair trade and organic chocolate sourced to the highest agricultural and labor standards, and a leading mission-driven brand worldwide. The company is an independent, family-owned business based in California, committed to honoring the vision of founder Emanuel Bronner by making socially and environmentally responsible personal care and food products of the highest quality, and by dedicating profits to help make a better world. Dr. Bronner’s commitment to social justice, environmental sustainability, and progressive and ethical business is part of the company’s mission to put the “All-One” philosophy printed on the company’s iconic soap labels into practice and integrate these ideals into all aspects of its operations. The company caps executive salaries at 5 times its lowest paid fully vested position and donates all profits not needed for business development. In 2023, Dr. Bronner’s generated an estimated $199.5 million in net revenue and gave more than $5 million to charitable and activist causes. To-date, Dr. Bronner’s has donated over $100 million since 1998, when leadership was transferred to the current generation who runs the company today. The company celebrated 75 years in business in 2023.

 

For further information, please visit: https://www.drbronner.com and https://www.drbronner.de

 

 

About Bronner Haus & Dr. Bronner’s Museum

The Bronner Haus is an ancestral home of the German-Jewish family behind the top-selling natural brand of soap in North America, Dr. Bronner’s. The building was originally built around 1807 and underwent extensive renovations in 2022, after the Bronner family acquired the home again. The building is where members of the Bronner family first began making soap in 1858. After nearly seven years of planning and renovations, the restoration was completed in spring 2024. Operated by the St. Elisabeth Foundation, the main floors of the house will serve as a residence for adults with special needs, named “Wohngemeinschaft Emanuel”. The Dr. Bronner’s museum, a permanent educational exhibit about the Bronner family’s soapmaking history and the business of Dr. Bronner’s today will occupy the basement of the house, in the same location where the family’s soapmaking legacy began.

 

For further information on Dr. Bronner’s history in Germany, please visit: https://www.lisabronner.com/five-generations-of-soapmakers-built-dr-bronners.