Building of the former Hotel Polski, currently the Stefan Żeromski National Theatre, Kielce
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Building of the former Hotel Polski, currently the Stefan Żeromski National Theatre

Kielce

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The structure is an important example of public utility construction from the 2nd half of the 19th century in the Kingdom of Poland, of impressive scale and utility solutions and retaining its original form and function.

History

The theatre building was built in years 1877-1878, by the then representative, newly delimited street in the city called Konstantyna (currently Sienkiewicza Street). The design was elaborated by Franciszek Ksawery Kowalski — the then governate constructor.  The construction was funded by a group of entrepreneurs led by an industrialist and philanthropist from Kielce, Ludwik Stumpf. It was carried out swiftly and quickly, which was widely covered in the contemporary press and city society. The theatre was named "Ludwik Theatre" after the founder, and the first performance was held in January 1879. The building housed a theatre room accommodating 700 people and a hotel section (called Hotel Polski) with guests rooms, and with a stable and carriage house in the yard. In that time, it was the biggest building in Kielce and one of the most modern theatres in the Kingdom of Poland. The theatre has operated without interruption up to this day; since the 1930s, it has been a main cultural centre of the city. Not only performances, but also magnificent balls, parties, and masquerades were held here.  The subsequent owners and inheritors, mainly of Jewish origin, preserved the original function of the building, however its name changed — after the World War I, it was Soldier's Theatre, and soon thereafter it was renamed Polish Theatre in Kielce. After the World War II, communist authorities have taken over the theatre (from missing or killed owners), on the basis of a decree "on vacated or abandoned property", and conferred the management upon it to the just established Stefan Żeromski National Theatre in Kielce. Under a slightly different name — Theatre of Stefan Żeromski — it has been operating to this day. In the meantime, the State Treasury became a majority owner of the structure and efforts are being made to purchase or take over the whole property. The theatre underwent substantial renovation just after the war, and probably then the only significant intervention in the front façade was carried out, consisting in removal of basements in the western section and division of the related premises with a ceiling of a intermediate storey. This section was designated for administrative rooms and commercial premises. Since the beginning of the 19th century, successive renovation and modernisation works have been carried out — in line with a multi-purpose concept elaborated in 1997 by architect Włodzimierz Pedrycz.  Among other things, the front façade was renovated (in 2003), the auditorium and its ceiling were replaced (in 2008), and the western outbuilding was modernised (in 2013). The current performance room can accommodate ca. 300 people, and the remaining part of the front building houses a small room, halls, administrative offices; in the year's outbuildings, there are changing rooms, workshops, and staff accommodations.

Description

The building constitutes the northern frontage of the middle section of Sienkiewicza Street (currently, the main promenade). In fact, there is a complex of buildings here — with the theatre in the front and outbuildings grouped around the yard available through the drive gate. The main building is preserved in the original form. It is a two-storey tenement house with basements, featuring a eclectic front façade divided by fifteen axes, reminiscent, in some aspects, of Renaissance style. The three middle as well as external axes feature subtle projection sections resembling avant-corps; they are accentuated by windows with semi-circular top sections and vertical divisions created by pilasters and engaged columns. The whole building is crowned with an elaborated cornice, and the ground level is emphasised by faux rustication. The axis of the front façade is delimited by the entrance gate, flanked by traffic routes — staircases. The western section, up to the height of the storeys and the attic, houses the performance hall (with a scene, lodges, and the gods), and the eastern section contains currently rooms for auxiliary theatre purposes (it is the former hotel section); where once was a restaurant, there is a commercial store now. In the interiors of the building, original décor elements draw attention — cast iron structure and finishing of balconies, and a cast iron representative staircase to the foyer; the scene is decorated with two caryatids holding a cornice. The atmosphere of the interior is original and unique — certainly worth preserving. The fabric of the building comprises: plastered brick and stone walls, mostly wooden ceilings and a wooden roof truss under a gable roof covered with sheet metal.

A building generally accessible from the outside (as a building in the street frontage), inside within the working hours of the theatre.

Compiled by Włodzimierz Pedrycz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Kielce, 29.10.2014.

Bibliography

  • Filling card: Budynek Teatru,  compiled by E. Traczyński 2005 [Archiwum Świętokrzyskiego Wojewódzkiego Konserwatora Zabytków w Kielcach i Archiwum Narodowego Instytutu Dziedzictwa w Warszawie].
  • Adamczyk J. L., Przewodnik po zabytkach architektury i budownictwa Kielc, Kielce 1997.
  • Książkiewicz A., Żeliwne elementy ozdobne budynków i mała architektura żeliwna, „Renowacje i Zabytki” 2012, no 44 (4/2012), pp. 62-69.
  • Machniccy E. and J., Tradycje hotelarskie w Kielcach do II wojny światowej, „Dedal. Świętokrzyski Magazyn Kulturalno-Artystyczny” 2006, no 4, pp. 22-27.
  • Oborny A.., Sztuki plastyczne i architektura w XIXw., [in:] „ Kielce przez stulecia”, Kielce 2014.
  • Pazdur J., Dzieje Kielc 1864—1939, Wrocław-Warszawa-Kraków-Gdańsk 1971.
  • Szczepański J., Architekci i budowniczowie. Materiały, Warszawa-Kraków 1990, pp. 74-77.
  • Wrońska-Gorzkowska R., Gorzkowski E., Album kielecki. Starówka. Przewodnik, vol. II, Kielce 1996.

General information

  • Type: public building
  • Chronology: 1877-1878 r.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Sienkiewicza 32, Kielce
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district Kielce, commune Kielce
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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