The Royal Western Prussian Deputation of the War and Domains Chamber for the Noteć District in Bydgoszcz, subsequently converted into a Municipal Library, currently serving as the Regional and Municipal Public Library, Bydgoszcz
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The Royal Western Prussian Deputation of the War and Domains Chamber for the Noteć District in Bydgoszcz, subsequently converted into a Municipal Library, currently serving as the Regional and Municipal Public Library

Bydgoszcz

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The buildings of the Regional and Municipal Public Library constitute an example of architecture designed to serve the needs of the general public, while at the same time being one of the rare examples of the Late Baroque/Classicist style in Bydgoszcz.

History

24 Old Market Square - In the years 1775-1778, the building of the Royal Western Prussian Deputation of the War and Domains Chamber for the Noteć District in Bydgoszcz was erected on a plot of land situated on the spot where Jana Kazimierza street meets what is now known as the Old Market Square (Stary Rynek). The two-storey Classicist edifice topped with a three-sided roof was subsequently used as the Royal (Appellate) Court, which was later moved to the neighbouring, newly erected townhouse at 41 Długa street before the year 1800. In years 1806-1815, the edifice served the needs of the departmental administration of the Duchy of Warsaw. Later on, the building housed the offices of the Prussian regency authorities (1815-1863), followed by the Court of Appeal (until 1906). Between 1816 and 1834, two buildings positioned alongside the Zaułek street as well as the on the junction of Zaułek and Jana Kazimierza street were erected. In 1908, the decision was taken on the adaptation of the former courthouse to serve the needs of the Municipal Library, based on the designs produced by the architects K. Gebauer and C. Meyer.

The Municipal Library in Bydgoszcz opened its doors to the public in 1903, although originally it operated inside a building on Bernardyńska street; after 1904, it moved to what is now known as Gdańska street and continued to function inside the now-defunct edifice at 27 Gdańska street until 1908.

41 Długa street - the edifice was erected in 1798 and was originally intended to serve as the building of the Royal Court. Until 1903, it remained the property of the Prussian state and served as a courthouse until the new building on Wały Jagiellońskie street was completed. Later on, the edifice served as the Municipal Police Headquarters.

In 1927, the main library building on the Old Market Square was linked with a two-storey connecting section with another building, positioned at the intersection of the Zaułek and Jana Kazimierza streets. In 1935, the tenement house at 41 Długa street was adapted to serve the needs of the library and was linked to the main building with an arcaded skyway above Zaułek street.

By April 1920, the library, which was handed over to the Polish authorities, already comprised about 75 thousand volumes. After Witold Bełza became the director of the library, the process of Polonisation of the library collection began, with the library being transformed into a research facility. By 1939, the library collection has increased to 150 thousand volumes. The library collection included, among others, the books and manuscripts from the former Bernardine library in Bydgoszcz (15th-18th century) as well as nearly 2.7 thousand royal documents, charters, decrees, manuscripts and autographs. Feliks Nowowiejski donated the only surviving manuscript of “Rota” (“The Oath”), a patriotic poem by Maria Konopnicka, while Adam Grzymała-Siedlecki made a contribution in the form of about a dozen books which had once belonged to the collection kept by Vladimir Lenin in the village of Poronin.

During World War II, the library sustained heavy losses, with about 20% of all books being destroyed, including 326 old prints and 99 incunables. In 1968, the establishment attained the status of a research library, while in 1975 it was converted into a regional library.

Description

The site of the current library originally consisted of four different parcels of land. They were later merged in 1774. The library edifice consists of two interconnected ensembles of buildings at 24 Old Market Square and 41 Długa street.

The building at 24 Old Market Square is a two-storey structure with a tall semi-basement level, designed on a rectangular floor plan, its façades bearing the hallmarks of the Late Baroque and Classicist styles. The front (northern) façade with a tall, rusticated wall base is preceded by two opposing flights of steps with stone balustrades, running in parallel to the façade and leading up to a landing in front of the entrance. The main entrance, positioned on the middle axis of the façade, is framed with a broad surround. An inscription which reads “THE LIBRARY OF DR. WITOLD BEŁZA” is displayed above the entrance. The nine-axial, symmetrical front façade is partitioned with giant order Ionic pilasters. The spaces between them are filled by large, rectangular windows which provide ample illumination to the interiors. A decorative roof parapet surmounted by ornamental urns, reconstructed after 1990, crowns the pseudo-avant-corps in the middle of the façade. The tall three-sided roof of the building is clad with roof tiles.

The eastern façade, facing Jana Kazimierza street, features the same layout as the front façade and is likewise partitioned with Ionic pilasters.

Inside the vestibule there is a representational, wooden staircase as well as the doorway leading out into the inner courtyard. A plaque commemorating Józef Wybicki, the author of the Polish national anthem, is displayed on the front façade.

41 Długa street - The two-storey building with Classicist decorations of the façades is stylistically reminiscent of the main building at 24 Old Market Square. Designed on an L-shaped floor plan, it is covered with a tall, mansard roof with eyebrow dormers. The front (southern) façade follows a seven-axial layout and is partitioned with giant order pilasters. The middle axis of the façade incorporates the main entrance, framed with a profiled surround and flanked by a pair of pilasters. The interior is illuminated by symmetrically arranged windows on the ground-floor level and the first-floor level. The eastern façade, facing Jana Kazimierza street, features the same layout and architectural articulation as the front façade.

In the 1930s, the interior of the building was rearranged, creating the so-called Bernardine Library (Biblioteca Bernardina), modelled after a medieval scriptorium and adorned with painted decorations by Jerzy Rupniewski. The decorative stained glass windows were designed by Edward Kwiatkowski.

Accessible structure.

compiled by Agnieszka Wysocka, Historical Monument and National Heritage Documentation and Popularisation Department of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Cultural Centre in Bydgoszcz, 26-11-2014 - 8-12-2014.

Bibliography

  • Szmańda E., Początki i rozwój działalności [in:] Z życia i pracy bydgoskiej książnicy. Księga pamiątkowa Biblioteki Miejskiej w Bydgoszczy 1903-1963, Bydgoszcz 1965, pp. 28-29
  • Węglerska A., Bydgoska książnica. Zarys dziejów [in:] Od inkunabułów do e-booków. Bydgoska książnica 1903-2013, Bydgoszcz 2013, pp. 5-31

General information

  • Type: public building
  • Chronology: 1775-1778 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Stary Rynek; Długa 24, Bydgoszcz
  • Location: Voivodeship kujawsko-pomorskie, district Bydgoszcz, commune Bydgoszcz
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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