The Cowherds' Tower, the gate building immediately to the east and the segment of city wall to the west belong to the few preserved remnants of the medieval city fortification of Frankfurt-Sachsenhausen, protected as an historic landmark. The building complex was previously considered a construction of the late 15th century.
The tower had been occupied until 1888, after which time it began to decay. It was only thanks to the protests of a citizens' initiative that it was not torn down. The renovation of the tower into a residential building by Paul Hindemith in 1923 permanently ensured its existence. After bomb attacks during the Second World War had destroyed both attics, the city of Frankfurt had the tower reconstructed in 1956–58. In the year 2010, extensive renovation and reconstruction measures were carried out on the Cowherds' Tower under the direction of the building authorities and the cultural office.
The renovations undertaken under Paul Hindemith in 1923 are clearly discernable. Amongst other things, the tower interior was completely newly equipped, retaining the former floor heights and making extensive reuse of the old ceiling beams. In addition, the western part of the ground floor, a former prison, was subdivided into two floors. A wall was also built into the building, separating the stairwell from the living areas.
A special architectural finding has been preserved on the west side of the tower. A narrow arrow slit can be recognised in the lower section of the west wall. Because of its very simple style of execution, it most probably dates from the 14th century. In addition, one notices a different surface treatment on the corner hewn stones. Together with other findings, these verify a clear caesura in the progress of the building. Contrary to previous assumptions, the construction of the Cowherds' Tower had thus already been begun at the end of the 14th century. Following an interruption in construction at a height of about 5.3 metres, the tower was only finished about 100 years later, around 1490, with a half-timbered superstructure and a slated roof.
Hindemith's Residence 1923-27
Hindemith, a talented draftsman, made a number a drawings of his unusual Frankfurt residence. He drew the silhouette of the tower and floor layouts of the rooms with plans for their furnishing in 1923 on a notebook with sketches for the Klaviermusik für Orchester (Klavier: linke Hand), Op. 29, a work commissioned by and for the Austrian pianist Paul Wittgenstein. He was able to finance the renovation of the tower from the fee for this composition.