Military Barracks Complex, Leszno
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Military Barracks Complex

Leszno

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The Military Barracks Complex constitutes a compact and stylistically uniform architectural complex which fits in harmoniously with the urban layout and landscape of the town. Most of the buildings were erected in years 1903-1905 with the intention to accommodate an artillery battalion and an infantry regiment. The complex was then extended in years 1910-1915. Despite the fact that the barracks are still in use today, no major transformations of the complex have taken place. The barracks are named after general Stefan “Grot” Rowecki, who was the commander of the Leszno garrison in years 1930-1935.

History

Leszno was a private town which remained in the hands of the Leszczyński noble family (of the Wieniawa coat of arms) between 1394 and 1738; later on, in years 1738-1833, the town passed on to the Sułkowski family, who also owned the nearby town of Rydzyna. In 1516, a group of refugees from Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia have settled in Leszno, fleeing religious persecution. In 1547, the town was granted Magdeburg rights. After 1633, more Protestant refugees from Silesia - most of them of German descent - arrived in town. The town also had a sizeable Jewish population. In the 16th and 17th century, Leszno remained the centre of the Unity of the Bohemian Brethren. In years 1628-55, the eminent scholar Jan Amos Komeński as well as Jan Jonston both resided in the town of Leszno. In 1656, the town was set on fire by the Polish forces - an act of revenge brought about by the decision of the local authorities to open the town’s gates to the invading Swedish forces one year earlier. It was only in 1738 that the town was able to embark upon a path of growth once again. During the partitions of Poland, the town formed part of the Prussian Partition. The construction of the new army barracks in Leszno was brought about by the reinforcement of the garrisons stationed on the eastern border of the German Empire; the town itself was located relatively close to the Russian border.

In years 1903-1905, the new barracks for the artillery battalion and the infantry regiment were erected.

In years 1910-1915, new stables for draft horses were erected.

In 1920, those of the buildings which have suffered no damage during World War I were taken over by the Polish Armed Forces.

In the 1930, a shooting range was established on the site for use by the regiment stationed here.

After 1945, some of the wooden doors and windows have been replaced in the course of modernisation of the barracks. The roof truss on the buildings was secured, with the surviving roof tiles being relaid and some of them being replaced.

A new boiler house was erected in 1961.

Also in the 1960s the complex received a new bath house and canteen, which replaced the original buildings that had served that purpose until then.

In the 1970s and the 1980s, the former stables were converted to serve as garages.

In years 2002-2003, the southern riding hall was extended and adapted to serve as a sports centre with a sauna, gym and jacuzzi.

Description

Leszno is a town with district rights, situated at the northern edge of the Leszczyńska Upland. A number of roads and railways from Poznań to Wrocław and from Kalisz to Zielona Góra lead through the town.

The army barracks complex is located south-east of the chartered town, by the former Rydzyńska road (formerly known as Rydzyńska street or Bismarckstrasse, today known as the 17 Stycznia street). The complex was built on the land forming part of the Leszczynko village. The buildings of the Leszczynko village were located towards the west. It was here that the very first residence of the Leszczyński family (of the Wieniawa coat of arms) was located; it is known to have stood on Starozamkowa street. The Leszczynko village (known initially as Leszczyn or Leszczyna) was incorporated into the town of Leszno in 1908; a number of new streets were created in connection with the construction of the barracks, including the former Ackerstrasse, known today as H. Sienkiewicza street. The Racławicka street, from which the main gate leading into the army barracks can be reached, started its life as a dirt road commonly referred to as the Gaumera street back then. This street connected Lipowa street and 17 Stycznia street. Somewhere around 1905, after the barracks were completed, the street was given a new name - Wörthstrasse. Today, the barracks border on the Racławiska street in the north, the 17 Stycznia street in the north-east, the Sienkiewicza street in the west and the Strzelecka street in the south.

The entire complex was built over a single timespan, which means that both the appearance of the buildings and their design and decorations are relatively uniform. The spacious buildings are made of brick and covered with steeply pitched roofs.

The barracks were designed on a quadrangular floor plan and positioned around two rectangular courtyards which occupy the northern part of the complex. This layout was deemed necessary due to the fact that two military unites were stationed there, which meant that the functions of individual buildings overlapped. The southern part of the site is occupied by training yards and utility storage facilities. The barracks are surrounded by a decorative fence consisting of both a brick wall and an openwork iron fence positioned between brick posts. A concrete wall serves as the southern boundary of the barracks; this wall is a later addition to the site. The surface of both courtyards is paved with granite setts and concrete slabs. The inner roads are also paved with granite setts and lined with deciduous trees.

The buildings comprising the barracks complex feature exposed brick façades and are covered with either gable roofs or hip roofs clad with overlapping roof tiles or beaver tail roof tiles laid in a dual layout (the latter solution being used for the former stables). The façades of the buildings follow a multi-axis, symmetrical layout; some of them feature avant-corps in the centre or at the outer edges, crowned with dentilled or geometric cornices. The brick façades are enlivened by scrolled fractables. The gable walls themselves are covered with plaster, while the volute-shaped copings feature sandstone cladding. The windows which pierce the gable walls take on a variety of forms, be it single, paired or triple windows, topped with round or pointed arches and framed by brick surrounds. The remaining windows are topped with segmental arches, while those of the casino building are completely rectangular. Some of the original wooden doors and windows have also been preserved. The sizeable barracks are accompanied by the stables, surgery, casino, riding hall, forge and latrines.

The historic monument can be visited by prior arrangement with the Military Unit commander.

compiled by Teresa Palacz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Poznan, 30-10-2014.

Bibliography

  • Łęcki Wł., Wielkopolska - słownik krajoznawczy, Poznań 2002.
  • Urbaniak M., Leszczyńskie koszary z lat 1901-1905 na planach budowlanych Archiwum Państwowego w Lesznie, Leszno 2012.
  • Urbaniak M., Modernizacja infrastruktury miejskiej Leszna w latach 1832 - 1914, Poznań 2009.
  • Świderski Br., Ilustrowany opis Leszna i ziemi leszczyńskiej, Leszno 1928 (reprint wydany na 450-lecie Leszna)
  • Kalendarium miasta Leszna, Piwoń Aleksander (red.), Leszno 1996.
  • Komolka M., Sierpowski St., Leszno - zarys dziejów, Poznań 1987

General information

  • Type: residential building
  • Chronology: 1903-1905
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Racławicka 1, Leszno
  • Location: Voivodeship wielkopolskie, district Leszno, commune Leszno
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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