Weaver’s House, currently: museum, Bielsko-Biała
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The building is a valuable example of wooden urban architecture. It is a component of the historic building complex of the so-called Upper Suburbs, which used to be inhabited by cloth makers and which is closely related to the history of Bielsko as one of the most important cloth making centres. Currently, the Weaver’s House functions as a museum, amply illustrating the work of a town craftsman.

History

Weaving, as a rural activity, had a high status in Bielsko from the early centuries. The first guild of cloth makers formed in the mid-16th century; its members were predominantly weaving masters from Germany and Lower Silesia. The importance of the weaving craft in the town is indicated by the fact that in 1728, half of all craftsmen were cloth makers. It is assumed that the direct cause and the onset of the collapse of weaving workshops was the establishment of the first cloth making factories in Bielsko at the beginning of the 19th century.

The Weaver’s House and other cloth making workshops in Bielsko were located in the so-called Upper Suburbs (Polish: Górne Przedmieście), by a trade route leading to Cieszyn. The history of the building goes back to the mid-18th century. It was built as a craft workshop,

functioning as the dwelling and workshop of a cloth maker. The house is known to have been owned by the Bartke family, who lived here in the years 1774-1823. The house then became the property of another family of cloth makers, the Bathelts. In 1873, the building was purchased at auction by the cloth making master Karol Nowak. The building only changed its function in 1907, when it started to house a shoemaker’s workshop run by the contemporary owner, Antoni Polończyk, operating continuously until the outbreak of World War II. In the post-war period, the building served only residential functions.

In the 1960s, the contemporary owner decided to hand the building over to the town, however, only for cultural purposes. In 1978, the town government handed the building over to the Regional Museum for the purpose of establishing a

Weaver’s House. The maintenance works and the reconstruction of missing elements in order to adapt the building to function as a museum were commenced in the early 1980s. The house was dismantled and transported to an open-air museum in Lipowiec, where it underwent restoration works. The building was heavily damaged in a fire in 1985, which broke out during the assembly of the building.

The roof trusses, the ceiling, and the interior were destroyed. Due to a delay caused by the fire, the building was only opened and made available to visitors in 1992.

Description

The Weaver’s House is situated to the west of the market square, at 51 Jana Sobieskiego Street, in the so-called Upper Suburbs, originally inhabited by cloth makers. The compact structure, built on a rectangular floor plan, is topped with a gable roof covered with weatherboards. Its characteristic features include the attic part covered with weatherboards and the projection on the south façade. Inside, a cloth maker’s workshop and residential rooms were reconstructed for the purposes of the museum; the aim is to imitate the interior of a one-generation house of an Evangelical family. The most important and at the same time the largest room is the workshop, situated in the left part of the building. The particularly noteworthy pieces of equipment include a two-person harness loom with a woolen warp from the 18th century. Besides the workshop and the centrally-located hall, the building also has a kitchen and a bedroom.

The building is an external exhibit of the History Museum in Bielsko-Biała. The Weaver’s House is open from Tuesday to Saturday. The price list and the opening hours are provided on the website of the Museum.

The admission is free on Tuesdays.

compiled by Agata Mucha, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Katowice, 29-07-2014.

Bibliography

  • Muzeum w Bielsku-Białej. Dom Tkacza-przewodnik, red. I. Purzycka, Bielsko-Biała 2004.
  • Zabytki sztuki w Polsce. Śląsk, red. Sławomir Brzezicki, Christine Nielsen, Grzegorz Grajewski, Dietmar Popp, Warszawa 2009, s. 117.
  • Szlak Zabytków Techniki Województwa Śląskiego, red. G. Bożek, Katowice 2006, s. 81.
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, t. VI woj. Katowickie, red. I. Rajduch-Samkowa, J. Samka, z. 2 pow. Bielsko-Bialski, inwent. E. Dwornik-Gutowska, M. Gutowski, Warszawa 1967, s.46, fig.24.

General information

  • Type: residential building
  • Chronology: II poł. XVIII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Jana Sobieskiego 51, Bielsko-Biała
  • Location: Voivodeship śląskie, district Bielsko-Biała, commune Bielsko-Biała
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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