The former Prussian Regional Court, currently serving as the courthouse complex, Inowrocław
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The former Prussian Regional Court, currently serving as the courthouse complex

Inowrocław

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An excellent example of municipal architecture from the late 19th/early 20th century, designed in the eclectic style with numerous references to the Northern Renaissance; despite the many years which have passed, the edifice retains its original interior layout, décor and fixtures and fittings, including the window and door joinery as well as the stained glass windows.

History

The complex of buildings serving as the courthouse and the accompanying detention centre were erected in the years 1900-1901 and were originally designed to serve the Prussian Regional Court. The site earmarked for the construction of the courthouse, with a total surface area of almost 1 hectare, was acquired as early as May 13, 1899, with the preserved design drawings created by architects from Berlin dating back to 1898. The design for the courthouse was subsequently approved and signed by the Royal Building Inspector based in Inowrocław. The subsequent designs, including those for the central heating installation, were prepared in 1903 by Johannes Haag, hailing from Augsburg. The exquisite stained glass windows designed by Ferdinand Mueller from Quedlinburg continue to grace the courthouse to this day. The total cost of construction of the complex was estimated at 603 thousand German marks.

The detention centre, situated behind the courthouse, was erected during the same period. Designed on a cruciform floor plan, the building made it possible for the prison guards to watch over the inmates from all directions, with the kitchens, solitary confinement facilities and guards’ rooms located at the ground-floor level. The layout of the remaining rooms was preserved intact, with no major changes being made. A tunnel connecting the two buildings also existed until the year 1952.

Under the provisions of an act enacted by the Polish parliament (the Sejm) in 1920, both of the buildings were taken over by the State Treasury; from that moment onwards, they have continued to serve their original purpose until this day. After 1945, the buildings were subjected to successive renovation and adaptation works which have not, however, resulted in any major changes being made to the interior layout, with the major works conducted involving the replacement of the roof truss and roof cladding as well as the modernisation of existing installations.

Description

The courthouse complex, consisting of the courthouse itself and the accompanying detention centre, is situated in the north-western part of the city, at the intersection of G. Narutowicza and M. Kopernika streets. The courthouse is positioned at the street intersection, while the detention centre sits in the northern part of the parcel. The courthouse was designed on an elongated, rectangular floor plan with a number of projecting avant-corps. It is a three-storey structure covered with a gable roof. The avant-corps are crowned with triangular gables with separate roofs, with the narrower, eastern and western avant-corps being topped with bulbous cupolas. The symmetrical front façade features a trio of projecting avant-corps and is partitioned by a moulded string course, with the pronounced crowning cornice providing the finishing touch. A decorative sandstone portal topped with a shouldered flat arch and flanked by paired pilasters supporting a triangular pediment is positioned on the middle axis of the central avant-corps. Above the portal runs a decorative band with the inscribed date “1900-1901”. Most of the front façade windows are topped with bipartite inflexed arches or semi-circular arches and are adorned with plain or rusticated surrounds. The gable of the central avant-corps is adorned with exquisite sculptural and architectural decorations executed in sandstone. The cornice near the base of the gable is surmounted by a heraldic cartouche with a maiden’s head - a personification of justice - accompanied by scrollwork ornamentation; there is also a second, smaller cartouche incorporating the Polish national emblem. The entire assembly is topped with various emblems as well as a profusion of scrollwork ornamentation crowned with a single pinnacle. The remaining avant-corps are similar in terms of architectural partitions and decorative scheme applied. The rear façade is strongly reminiscent of the front, featuring a similar arrangement of three avant-corps, with the three-axial middle avant-corps also incorporating an entrance. Both the eastern and western façade features a single, narrow avant-corps incorporating windows of varying shapes and crowned with a bulbous cupola surmounted by a slender finial and flanked by small dormers. The interiors have largely been preserved intact, so that visitors can still witness the design solutions applied back when the edifice was first built. The main entrance leads into a vestibule with a vaulted ceiling supported by pared pilasters. The elongated hallway with rounded corners features the original, decorative tiled floor. The main, rather elaborate staircase with an openwork, wrought-iron balustrade adorned with stylised geometric and floral motifs is positioned on the axis of the entrance. The half-landing of the staircase is illuminated by a trio of stained glass windows. The hallways on the upper storeys feature vaulted ceilings based on the use of basket-handle arches, partitioned by paired, decorative bands supported by dentilled corbels. The walls of the hallways are punctuated by niches topped with basket-handle arches or segmental arches. At the height of the second floor, there is a representational courtroom with large stained glass windows and a trio of highly decorative wooden portals. The side avant-corps sections incorporate separate, half landing staircases with preserved wrought-iron balustrades. Among the many surviving period fixtures and fittings, the courtroom décor clearly deserves a mention at this stage, consisting of ornate wood panelling, balustrade, dock, chandeliers as well as stained glass windows, the latter incorporating a profusion of foliate motifs intertwined with scroll banners as well as various symbolic decorations, including a coat of arms with an eagle, images of various buildings and trees, a coat of arms incorporating an image of a house, a weighing scale with a decorative band, a hand extended in the gesture of an oath, a coat of arms incorporating the symbol of arrows and a cross as well as another coat of arms with a coronet, a sword and a group of towers.

The detention centre was designed on a cruciform plan and is a four-storey structure with a gable roof above one wing, with the other wings featuring flat roofs instead. The smooth, plastered walls are punctuated with a rhythmic arrangement of identical windows in brick surrounds, topped with segmental arches. The gables of the arms of the edifice are pierced with large windows topped with round arches.

The courthouse can be visited during the court opening hours; the detention centre is closed to the public.

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

Bibliography

  • Zabytki architektury i budownictwa w Polsce. Województwo bydgoskie 5, part 2, compiled by K. Parucka, Warsaw 1997.
  • Record sheet of monuments of architecture, August 1993.

General information

  • Type: public building
  • Chronology: 1900-1901 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: G. Narutowicza 42, Inowrocław
  • Location: Voivodeship kujawsko-pomorskie, district inowrocławski, commune Inowrocław (gm. miejska)
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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