Augsburg Evangelical parish church of St John the Baptist, currently serving as the parish church of St Adalbert the Bishop and Martyr, Białystok
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Augsburg Evangelical parish church of St John the Baptist, currently serving as the parish church of St Adalbert the Bishop and Martyr

Białystok

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An excellent example of Romanesque Revival architecture from the early 20th century, its interior featuring a layout typical of Evangelical churches. The church is also notable for its lavish façade detailing. The church remains a material trace of the local Protestant community which played an important role in the history of the city of Białystok in the 19th century and in the early 20th century.

History

The first Augsburg Evangelical parish in Białystok was established in 1796. The church of St John the Baptist was erected in the years 1909-1913, at the initiative of the Evangelical parish priest Teodor Zirkwitz, with the design being produced by the architect Jan Wende from Łódź. During World War 2, the church was abandoned due to the mass migration of Evangelicals to Germany. Only occasionally would any church service be held there, with those attending being mostly German soldiers (after 1941). In 1944, the neighbouring power station was blown up, with the blast wave ripping the roof off the church as well as causing damage to both its walls and window joinery. The church was refurbished during the same year and handed over to the Catholics; the building was reconsecrated under a new name - the church of St Adalbert the Bishop and Martyr. An action was later filed with the court for the return of the church to the Evangelical community; the proceedings finally ended in 1972 with an appropriate contract for the sale of the church being signed. From 1961 onwards, the church was maintained by the Higher Theological Seminary. In 1979, the separate parish of St Adalbert was established. In the years 1996-2004, the church underwent comprehensive renovation works which involved, among others, the replacement of the interior plaster finish, the restoration of the façades and the execution of new painted decorations inside the church. In 2013, the wooden roof truss of the tower as well as the staircase inside it were lost to the blaze. At the present stage, the church is undergoing maintenance and renovation works.

Description

The building is located in the city centre, on the western side of Warszawska street, its chancel facing the south-west.

The church was erected in the Romanesque Revival style.

Designed on a Latin Cross floor plan, it is a three-nave hall church with interior galleries. A two-storey bell tower rises above the vestibule, its lower section integrated with the main body of the building. The tower is flanked by a pair of semi-circular annexes at its base, reaching up to the second storey thereof. The chancel terminates with an apse and is flanked by a pair of sacristies with separate vestibules. The front vestibule was designed on a narrow, rectangular floor plan, preceded by a small porch connected to a pair of staircases leading up to the choir gallery and the tower. The corner sections of the front façade of the church follow a rounded outline. The nave is covered with two intersecting gable roofs; the chancel apse features a semi-conical roof, while the bell tower is topped with a spire with several triangular gablets at its base. The sacristies feature roofs of the gable type. The church is made of brick, its structure resting on a stone foundation. The roof is covered with sheet metal. The interior walls are covered with plaster. The exposed red brick façades are enriched by plastered architectural detailing. They are divided into sections by a number of cornices - the flat cornice above the wall base as well as the profiled cornice running below the upper row of windows and extending all the way to the sacristies, where it continues right below the eaves. The crowning cornice above is likewise heavily profiled, its course interrupted by the gables which also have profiled cornices at their edges. Arcaded friezes run below some of the cornices. The corners are accentuated by lesenes. The narrow, tall window openings are rectangular in shape and topped with semicircular arches. Triple windows are present on the ground-floor level of the side aisles and the vestibules. The bell openings in the tower take the form of paired windows. Rose windows framed by arches supported by columns with cubiform capitals grace the gables of both the front façade and the side aisles. The front façade portal is framed with an arch of a similar design, albeit applied in a dual arrangement which lends it the appearance of an archivolt.

Inside, the main nave is graced by a stellar vault, while both the side aisles and the choir gallery feature cross-rib vaulting. The ceilings inside the porch and the vestibule are completely flat. The side aisles are separated from the main nave by wide arcades supported by columns with cubiform capitals; the galleries rising above feature wooden parapets adorned with rows of semi-circular arches. The choir gallery above the entrance, supported by a pair of columns, features a similar parapet as well as a broad, arched recess designed to accommodate the pipe organ. The building features a basement beneath the chancel and the southern part of the nave. The fixtures and fittings include a wooden pulpit as well as an early-20th century pipe organ.

The church is open to visitors.

compiled by Tomasz Rogala, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 21-12-2014.

Bibliography

  • Cybulko Z., Dawny kościół ewangelicki pw. św. Jana Chrzciciela w Białymstoku, obecnie rzymskokatolicki kościół parafialny pw. św. Wojciecha BM. Pożar wieży we wrześniu 2013 r., “Biuletyn Konserwatorski Województwa Podlaskiego”, issue 19, 2013, pp. 291-302.
  • Dobroński A., Białystok historia miasta, Białystok 2001, p. 95.
  • Klimaszewski Z. T., Parafia świętego Wojciecha w Białymstoku, Białystok 2004.
  • Tomecka B., Szczygieł-Rogowska J., Cmentarz ewangelicki w Białymstoku przy ul. Wasilkowskiej, Białystok 2008, pp. 14-20.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: 1909-1913
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Warszawska , Białystok
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district Białystok, commune Białystok
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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