The Nowik Palace, currently serving as the Military Draft Office, Białystok
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The Nowik Palace, currently serving as the Military Draft Office

Białystok

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A well-preserved example of residential architecture designed in the Art Nouveau style and featuring lavish, opulent detailing. The building dates back to the period of the rapid growth of the local textile industry which has led to Białystok being referred to as “Manchester of the North”. The building forms part of the Białystok Factory Owners Trail, the Esperanto Multicultural Trail as well as the Białystok Jewish Heritage Trail, the latter existing from 2008 onwards.

History

The residence of Chaim Nowik - a wealthy factory owner - and his wife Chana was erected in the years 1900-1910 and originally formed part of a complex consisting of the palace itself, a trio of utility buildings and a highly decorative garden. At that time, Nowik was the proprietor of the “Nowik & Sons” manufacturing plant - one of the largest broadcloth and hat factories in Białystok, located on Augustowska street. In 1912, Nowik made his wife Chana the co-owner of the land, conveying a 1/2 share in the property upon her. From 1925 onwards, the residence remained in the hands of Nowik’s successors in title. The building served as an apartment house, with the apartments being of a highly representational nature and thus very popular with the members of the liberal professions. Some of the rooms were rented to the military, which established a District Draft Commission there. In September 1939, the palace served as the headquarters of the defence staff for the city of Białystok. The building survived World War II, although its owners have all perished; the palace itself was taken over by the Garrison Military Hospital. In September 1945, the land was taken over by the Temporary State Administration of the Białystok province. From 1946 onwards, the building has once again been held on lease by the military; following the necessary repairs, the palace has served as a Military Draft Office.

Description

The palace forms part of the frontage of buildings leading alongside the city’s main street - Lipowa street; the building itself is situated at the junction of Lipowa and Waryńskiego streets. The palace is a highly eclectic design which leans strongly towards the Art Nouveau, with certain Classicist influences; the building - featuring an impressive corner turret - is accompanied by the remains of the garden which had once surrounded it. The outbuilding located next to the palace was designed in the Swiss style.

The palace itself is a two-storey brick structure with a basement, designed on an L-shaped floor plan, adjoining the neighbouring tenement house to the east. The building is slightly receded vis-à-vis the rest of the frontage, its main body consisting of two cuboid sections; the gable roof of the palace is clad with sheet metal. A three-storey tower graces the western corner of the structure. The building is preceded by a metal fence adorned with floral motifs, positioned along the line of the frontage of Lipowa street as well as along the western side of the palace. The fence is supported by brick posts located in the western corner of the lot as well as in the front section of the fence, near the corner tower. The front façade features an asymmetrical design with an avant-corps at the eastern edge and the tower at the corner; the windows at the first and third floor level are topped with segmental arches, while those of the second storey are rectangular in shape. The spaces above the second-floor windows are adorned with decorative panels embellished with foliate decoration, with plasterwork laurel wreaths gracing the row of lesenes which breaks the monotony of the front façade. The entire design is crowned with a corbelled cornice, with the central section of the façade being graced by a decorative roof parapet surmounted by a row of obelisks. The eastern avant-corps features a slightly receded entrance with a double door and transom light; above the door recess there is a window in the shape of a horizontally positioned rectangle, topped with a segmental arch and adorned with a lavishly decorated surround. The western avant-corps takes the form of a tower, its upper storey being designed on a quadrangular plan and topped with a two-tier, polygonal cupola with ornamental urns at its base. The windows of the second and third storey of the tower are elongated in shape and arranged in rows of three, with the second-floor window arrangement taking the form of an oriel with a curved outline, supported by an ornate corbel adorned with foliate motifs. The top section of the oriel is surmounted by the third-storey balcony, featuring a lavishly designed openwork metal balustrade. The eastern façade is likewise an asymmetrical design, its window arrangement being the same as in the front façade. A row of dormer windows projects from the surface of the roof on the second, third, fourth and fifth axis of the façade. The original interior layout has been partially preserved, as have been the fragments of a painted frieze gracing the staircase, adorned with foliate motifs.

The building can be viewed from the outside.

compiled by Grażyna Rogala, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 10-12-2014.

Bibliography

  • Dolistowska M., W poszukiwaniu tożsamości miasta. Architektura i urbanistyka Białegostoku w latach 1795-1939, Białystok 2009, p. 175, fig. p. 175.

General information

  • Type: palace
  • Chronology: 1900-1910
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Lipowa 35, Białystok
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district Białystok, commune Białystok
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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