Ostentatious brickwork facades and opulent gables with battlements and corner towers around the green forecourt are initially more reminiscent of an aristocratic residence than a shaft facility for coal mining. Precisely this was part of the building concept. Today this "castle of work" is definitely one of the most attractive and unusual witnesses to Germany's industrial past.
It can now hardly be imagined that the ensemble was to be knocked down to make way for an expressway upon its closure in the 1960s. The most important object in the struggle for preservation was the machine hall with its impressive Art Nouveau portal – today an icon of industrial culture. The preservation of the exemplary glass and steel building in 1969 not only rescued the complete facility but simultaneously marked the beginnings of industrial heritage preservation in Germany.
In the case of the Zollern Colliery its name is reminiscent of Prussian domination in the Westphalian Ruhr Area: As a sign of gratitude for new levels of freedom in mining, Dortmund entrepreneurs in 1856 wanted to name their new colliery in Kirchlinde after the Prussian royal family. The name "Hohenzollern" was taken and abbreviated to "Zollern", and as a consequence its related colliery in Bövinghausen, today the location of a museum, bears the same name.
The brickwork buildings of the open-cast sites can well be termed "Prussian" architecture. The machine hall constructed of exposed steel framework represents the enormous upswing of the German coal and steel industry in the Ruhr Area of around 1900. This boom was significantly promoted by progressive Prussian economic policy in the German empire.
The exhibition focusing on the history of the operations also highlights further references to Prussia: it displays among other exponents a Dortmund association flag with an impressive "Germania", a bible that Empress Auguste Victoria gifted to the local Protestant church community and the safety helmet of a Prussian policeman that bears witness to violent suppression of the miner's strike in 1905.