Town Hall, Public Library, Cultural Centre, Chojna
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Town Hall, Public Library, Cultural Centre

Chojna

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The Gothic and Baroque town hall is a building with a complicated 700-year history. The building has retained clear accumulation of stylish structures, which evidences six historical stages/phases of alterations. The reconstruction of the town hall in 1977-1986 was based on thorough historical and conservation studies. The reconstructed southern and northern Gothic gable-end façades are one of the most lavishly decorated in Poland.

History

The town hall is a complex building, the construction of which was divided into three stages implemented in the Middle Ages and as part of modern alterations. Chojna obtained an official city status before 1271. Soon afterwards, the first seat of the town council, the architectural form of which is unknown, was located in the north-western part of the market square. A part of the foundations under the eastern façade next to the northern corner and fragments of reveals of openings in the northern façade date back to that construction date back to that phase. The building was destroyed by fire in 1316.

The new building which was completed before 1366 was built as a result of extensions to the previous structure towards the south. The building was built on a rectangular floor plan, measured 38.30 m by 13.70 m, had a basement, two storeys, with a steeple along the axis of the south façade, and an entrance located in the northern part of the west façade. The interior featured an unrecognised layout, were covered with wooden ceilings. The basement ceiling was reinforced with a row of wooden posts. In the records dating from 1409, the structure is called “Cophuse - Merchant’s House”.

Between 1433 and 1461, the building was once again extended southwards by one bay, i.e., by 9.30 m, and was enclosed with a new façade with lavish decorations. The basement was covered with cross-rib vaulting. At the end of this construction stage, the north façade was redecorated. The entrances to the interior were located on the axes of the gable-end façades (northern and southern façades). The lower parts of longitudinal façades obscured merchants’ booths. This stage of extension of the town hall is associated with the activities of the workshop of Hinrich Brunsberg. The works were completed in 1461. The added section was adapted to be used by the town council, and the building began to be called “town hall”.

In the 16th century, window openings and storeys forming part of the western façade were enlarged, and a steeple was built on the roof.

The forms of the town hall were changed significantly during the extensions in 1702. In that time, the walls of the first floor were demolished, but both Gothic gables were left. New walls were raised by about 1.5 m; the eastern and western façades were pierced by rectangular windows and plastered. The interior of the ground floor included a merchants’ hall; a meeting room of the town council and a number of smaller rooms connected to the corridor extending along the western wall were created on the ground floor next to the northern end of the building.

The building underwent complete renovation in the first quarter of the 19th century. During that time, administrative rooms were created on the ground floor, the shape of the windows in the eastern and northern façades were changed to rectangular, and merchants’ booths were removed from the area in front of the east façade. The works undertaken in 1883 included regothicisation of both gable-end façades of the town hall, which involved restoring the pointed-arch form of windows, friezes and portals. At the same time, longer façades were renovated. Minor renovations were carried out in the interwar period. In 1918, the joinery of the northern portal was replaced, and in 1925 the portal was bricked up.

In 1945, the town hall was severely damaged. Detonations of explosives destroyed its southern part, ceilings between the storeys, and roof. The peripheral walls of the northern section and some of the basement ceilings have survived. The town hall laid in ruins until the 1970s. After the rubble had been removed from the structure, the basement ceilings and the surviving walls were secured. The project of reconstruction of the town hall provided for its reconstruction according to the state before the destruction in 1945, based on the iconography and preserved original fittings and decorations. The interior of the building was adapted to be used as the seat of a cultural centre and library. Research, design, construction and conservation works were carried out by the State Monuments Conservation Workshop (Polskie Pracownie Konserwacji Zabytków S.A.), branch in Szczecin. The structure was reconstructed in the Gothic style with Baroque elements in 1977-1986. Reconstruction of the original interior layout covered a two-aisle basement hall, where destroyed fragments of Gothic vaults were reconstructed. Today, it houses the “Ratuszowa” restaurant.

Description

The town hall is situated in the centre of the town, in the north-western part of the Old Town Square. The front façade faces the south-east.

The building was built on stone foundations; the peripheral walls in some sections of the basements and ground floor have retained fragments built of Gothic bricks laid in Monk bond and Gothic bond and Dutch bricks. The town hall was erected on an elongated rectangular floor plan, measuring 47.60 by 13.70 metres. During the reconstruction a one-storey annex measuring 37.90 by 4.40 m and divided into separate rooms serving trade and catering functions was added to the eastern façade. A basement extends under the whole building. The structure has two storeys with a usable attic. It is covered with a gable roof with pinnacle gables to the south and north. The roof faces are pierced by dormer providing additional illumination for the attic. The annex is topped with a shed roof. The roofs were clad with ceramic monk-and-nun tiles.

Each of the façades of the town hall features different partitions. The gable-end façades, including the front façade overlooking the Old Town Square and northern façade, are characterised by lavish architectural décor made of ceramic brick which contrasts with plaster blind windows. The front façade is three-axial and divided from the ground level to the gable by polygonal buttresses. The horizontal partition is marked with two cornices between the storeys and strips of friezes in the top section. The main entrance preceded by stairs is located along the axis of the façade. The eastern axis features an entrance to the basements housing the restaurant. The pointed-arch window and door openings are topped with ornamental gables. The first floor has three bipartite windows (paired arched windows) with rosettes in the intrados of blind windows. The central part of the gable features twin windows framed by decorative surrounds, with blind windows with rosettes in the intrados and ornamental gables to the sides. The northern gable-end façade is three-axial, features a pointed-arch portal preceded by stairs and an entrance to the basements along the western axis. Two pointed-arch blind windows are located on the sides of the portal. A strip of cornice separates the ground floor from the top section. The gable was partitioned by polygonal pilaster strips and strips of friezes composed of ornamental gable motifs. The lower storey of the gable was pierced by fived windows, three of which are pointed-arched, and two (outermost) are closed off with round arches. Above, the central part of the gable is pierced by windows closed off with round arches in the form similar to that of paired arched windows. Trefoil blind windows with rosettes featuring the motif of a fish bladder are located along the outermost axes. The axes of the top section are topped with ornamental gables. The ground floor of the east façade was obscured by a modern annex, over which there are 11 pointed-arch blind windows with windows featuring segmental arches in their top sections. The blind window next to the northern corner is devoid of a window opening. The façade on the first floor level is plastered, has eighteen axes with rectangular windows, and is partitioned by pilaster. The west façade features an irregular layout; the face on the ground floor level is made of brick, while on the first floor it is plastered. The ground floor features 13 narrow windows topped by segmental arches and one pointed-arch window. An entrance topped with a segmental arch and preceded by stairs is located at the northern corner. The façade on the first floor level is partitioned in the same manner as the eastern façade.

The original interior layout has been retained in a two-aisle basement hall covered with a cross-rib vault; the interior has 16 bays divided by arches, which rest on a row of low pillars. The divisions of the interior of the ground floor, first floor and attic were made using modern technology in a manner appropriate to the current function.

The building is open to visitors.

compiled by Anna Walkiewicz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Szczecin, 15.07.2015.

Bibliography

  • Arszyński M., Mroczko T. (redakcja), Architektura gotycka w Polsce. Katalog zabytków, Warszawa 1995, s. 46
  • Hoppe W., Geschichte der Stadt Königsberg, [w:] Die Kunstdenkmäler der Provinz Brandenburg, Berlin 1928, Bd. VII, Th. 1, Heft 2, s. 11-12
  • Kalita-Skwirzyńska K., Ratusz w Chojnie, woj. szczecińskie. Dokumentacja konserwatorska z przebiegu prac budowlano-konserwatorskich w okresie od 15 września 1977 r., do 22 lipca 1986 r., Pracownie Konserwacji Zabytków Oddział Szczecin 1986, m-pis w archiwum Narodowego Instytutu Dziedzictwa Oddział Terenowy w Szczecinie.
  • Kalita-Skwirzyńska K., Rozwój urbanistyki i architektury Chojny w okresie średniowiecza, [w:] Terra Transoderana. Sztuka Pomorza Zachodniego i dawnej Nowej Marchii w średniowieczu. Materiały z seminarium naukowego poświęconego jubileuszowi 50-lecia pracy w muzealnictwie szczecińskim Zofii Krzymuskiej-Fafius, 7-8 czerwca 2002 r., Szczecin 2004, s. 101-112
  • Kalita-Skwirzyńska K., Ratusz. Chojna, woj. zachodniopomorskie, karta ewidencyjna zabytków architektury i budownictwa, 1999, archiwum Zachodniopomorskiego Wojewódzkiego Konserwatora Zabytków w Szczecinie.
  • Kamiński R., Ratusz. Chojna, woj. szczecińskie. Dokumentacja badań archeologicznych. Wyniki badań ratowniczych, 1979 r., PP Pracownie Konserwacji Zabytków O. Szczecin, Pracownia Archeologiczno-Konserwatorska, Szczecin 1979, m-pis w archiwum Narodowego Instytutu Dziedzictwa Oddział Terenowy w Szczecinie.
  • Kąsinowski A., Powierzchniowe badania architektoniczne ratusza w Chojnie, 1970 r., PP Pracownie Konserwacji Zabytków Oddział Szczecin 1970, m-pis w archiwum Narodowego Instytutu Dziedzictwa Oddział Terenowy w Szczecinie.
  • Pilch J., Kowalski S., Leksykon zabytków architektury Pomorza Zachodniego i ziemi lubuskiej, ARKADY, Warszawa 2012, s. 36-37
  • Radacki Z., Ratusz w Chojnie, woj. szczecińskie, PP Pracownie Konserwacji Zabytków Dział Dokumentacji Naukowej, Szczecin 1960, m-pis w archiwum Narodowego Instytutu Dziedzictwa Oddział Terenowy w Szczecinie.
  • Voss G., Kunstdenkmäler der Provinz Brandenburg, Bd. II, Th. I, Kreis Königsberg, Berlin 1928

General information

  • Type: town hall
  • Chronology: 2 poł. XIV w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: pl. Konstytucji 3 Maja , Chojna
  • Location: Voivodeship zachodniopomorskie, district gryfiński, commune Chojna - miasto
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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