Complex of the former Józef Piłsudski University of Physical Education and Civil Defence Training, currently the Piłsudski Regional Cultural Centre, Kielce
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Complex of the former Józef Piłsudski University of Physical Education and Civil Defence Training, currently the Piłsudski Regional Cultural Centre

Kielce

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An example of a well-preserved modernist public utility architecture, distinguished by a monumental body and original historicist façade and interior details. Design by eminent architect Edgar Norwerth. The expression of patriotic ideas and the commemoration of the heroic deed of Polish Legions.

History

The building was erected on the site formerly occupied by the “Psiarnia” grange, as part of a sports complex, in 1933-1935, on the initiative of the Józef Piłsudski Committee of Physical Education and Civil Defence Training in Kielce, associated with the Fourth Regiment of the Polish Legions stationed in the town. It was built on the anniversary of regaining independence and located by the road which was used by the First Cadre Company under the command of Józef Piłsudski to enter Kielce, and was homage paid to legionnaires and the marshal. The design of the building and its surroundings was developed by architect Edgar Aleksander Norwerth from Warsaw, who designed mainly in the style of moderate functionalism. The interior design was developed by local sculptor Leon Książyński. The building was completed in 1935; interior work lasted longer.

The Monument of the Heroic Deed of Polish Legions authored by sculptor and legionnaire professor Jan Raszka (destroyed during World War 2, reconstructed in 1991) was unveiled on the square in front of the building in 1938. The purpose of the building was to develop competitive and paramilitary sports, promote culture and integrate military environment with the inhabitants of Kielce. According to the design, the ground floor housed 3 soldiers’ common rooms, gymnasium, boxing room, etc., and the first floor consisted of a ballroom, casino lounges, dining room, conference room, and 30 rooms for military organisations. In the back of the property there was a garden, tennis courts, gyms, and swimming pool, whereas the inner courtyard featured a fountain. Initially, the complex was a venue for theatre performances, academies, receptions and balls. It was only in the following years that it was used as the seat the Municipal Centre of Civil Defence Training and Physical Education, common room and Jordan garden for children. During World War 2, the building was used as Soldatenheim (German Soldier’s Club), and in its last period as a hospital. In 1947, it was allocated for use as the Workers' Culture Center (Polish: Dom Kultury Robotniczej), which laid the foundations for the present J. Piłsudski Regional Cultural Centre operating in the building to this day. In the 1990s the façades of the building were renovated and the décor of the Mirror Room underwent conservation, among others; in 2008 renovation was carried out to the fence.

Description

The structure is located south of the city centre, in the vicinity of a stadium, between Ściegiennego Street, Aleja Legionów Street and Piłsudskiego Square, where the replica of the Monument of the Heroic Deed of Polish Legions is placed. The complex consists of a group of connected wings around a small courtyard. To the east, they are separated by a pre-war masonry cast iron fence, with stone pillars surmounted by metal pinnacles (iron quasi-heads of halberds). The building was designed according to the principles of modernist functionalism, influence by historicism in the façade detail, and especially in the lavish interior décor. It is built of brick, plastered, and features reinforced concrete ceilings and flat roofs. The cladding of the ground floor and arcades, cornices and architectural details of the façades are made of sandstone, whereas the interior décor is dominated by local marble and stuccowork. The northern and eastern wings are intended for the eyes of guests, with T-shaped stairs leading to impressive rooms on the upper storey — the so-called Fireplace Room and Mirror Room. The projecting north-western wing was adapted for use as a cinema room, the western wing as offices, and the southern wing as a gym. As appropriate to the function, more lavish architectural setting was only evident in asymmetrical north and east façades, which are distinguished by arcades on the ground floor, and a row of rectangular French windows (portes-fenêtres) with pediments joined with oculi. The ground floor and corners of the eastern avant-corps are also accentuated by slender round pillar supported by corbels, and the whole is crowned by a kind of attic. The northern façade features a stone plaque with the name of the structure and date “1935”, decorated with the Polish eagle emblem and cannon barrel motif.

The interiors have a two- and two-and-a-half-bay layout, divided by massive pillars (hall, cinema room, among others) or articulated by pilaster partitions (Mirror Room, Fireplace Room). The lavish décor of rooms intended for the eyes of guests includes a colourful cladding and sculptural detail of various marbles and coffered ceilings, stucco on the ceilings, wooden, mosaic parquets, and marquetry door joinery.

Only part of the interior is open to visitors as part of the activity of the Regional Cultural Centre (Polish: Wojewódzki Dom Kultury) in Kielce. A link to the virtual tour can be found at: www.wdk-kielce.pl

compiled by Anna Adamczyk, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Kielce, 15-12-2014.

Bibliography

  • Adamczyk A., Prace remontowo-konserwatorskie i budowlane w granicach województwa świętokrzyskiego i dawnego kieleckiego, [in:] Piasecka A. (ed.), Prace konserwatorskie w latach 1990-2000. Dziesięć lat Służby Ochrony Zabytków w Kielcach, Kielce 2001, p. 38.
  • Adamczyk J. L., Przewodnik po zabytkach architektury i budownictwa Kielc, Kielce 1998, pp. 45-46.
  • Adamczyk J. L., Wróbel T., Portrety zabytków Kielc, Kielce 2004, p. 60.
  • “Gazeta Kielecka” 1933, no. 55, p. 2.
  • “Gazeta Kielecka” 1933, no. 63, p. 2.
  • “Gazeta Kielecka” 1936, no. 76, p. 3.
  • Machnicki J., Z patriotycznych postaw zrodzony. Dom WF i PW im. Marszałka Józefa Piłsudskiego w Kielcach, “Świętokrzyskie. Środowisko, dziedzictwo kulturowe, edukacja”, 2014, no. 14, p. 138-155, http://sbc.wbp.kielce.pl/Content/27735/%C5%9Awietokrzyskie+14net.pdf
  • Myśliński K., Wizerunek miasta (1918-1939), [in:] Główka J. (ed.), Kielce przez stulecia, Kielce 2014, pp. 471-472.
  • Nowakowski T., Geneza budownictwa sportowego w Polsce, “Architektura i Budownictwo”, 1933, no. 10-12, p. 357, fig. 97-99.
  • Szczepański J., Architekci i budowniczowie. Materiały, Warsaw-Cracow 1990, pp. 104-105.
  • Urbański K., Miklaszewska H., Sentymentalne Kielce. Fotografie ze zbiorów Muzeum Narodowego w Kielcach, Kielce 2004, pp. 46, 48.
  • Zaremba E., Nowe Kielce, [in:] Pamiętnik Koła Kielczan, Kielce 1936/37, p. 94-95.

General information

  • Type: public building
  • Chronology: 1933-1935
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Ściegiennego 2, Kielce
  • Location: Voivodeship świętokrzyskie, district Kielce, commune Kielce
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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