Former Talmudic House, Siemiatycze
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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The Talmudic House in Siemiatycze is one of the few surviving 19th-century structures of its kind in the Podlaskie province, its artistic value stemming primarily from its Baroque Revival design with modernist decorative influences. The building also serves as a tangible trace of the rich culture and customs of the once-numerous Jewish community in Siemiatycze.

History

Jews have originally started to settle in Siemiatycze towards the end of the 16th century, having been encouraged to do so by the erstwhile owner of the surrounding lands, Katarzyna Olelkowicz née Tęczyńska, the wife of Jerzy Olelkowicz, the duke of Słuck (Slutsk). Towards the end of the following century, the local Jews already had their own community council (the qahal). In 1765, the Siemiatycze qahal comprised 1895 individuals resident in Siemiatycze, Drohiczyn and the neighbouring villages. Siemiatycze itself had a population of 1015 Jews at the time. According to the census conducted by the Russian authorities in 1897, the total Jewish population in town was 4638, i.e. 75% of all the local residents. The Talmudic House (otherwise known as the przyszkółek - [a building] attached to the synagogue) was originally erected towards the end of the 19th century; according to some of the available sources, the date of its construction was 1893, while other documents point towards ca. 1900 as the more likely date. It served its original function until 1941. During World War II, the vast majority of the Jews of Siemiatycze were transported to the extermination camp in Treblinka and murdered; after the war came to an end, the building was taken over by the State Treasury. In the 1960s, the building was refurbished. Subsequent large-scale renovation works were carried out in 1993-1995, when the building was adapted to serve as the municipal public library. Today, the building functions as a General Vocational School and Secondary School for Adults.

Description

The Talmudic House is situated in the south-western part of town, at 10 Pałacowa street, in the vicinity of the synagogue at 1 Zaszkolna street. It is a Baroque Revival building with certain modernist influences in its exterior decorations. Designed on a rectangular floor plan, it is a single-storey building with no basement; beneath its mansard roof lies a converted attic, illuminated by wall dormers on both sides of the roof. The building is a brick structure positioned on brick and stone foundations, its walls covered with plaster; the roofs are clad with sheet metal. The front (eastern) façade features windows arranged in an alternating pattern, with the axes of the garret windows in the gable positioned between those of the ground-floor windows; the gable itself features a coping which follows the shape of a segmental arch flanked by side sections which, although volute-shaped, do not feature actual volute decorations. The western façade features a simple, triangular gable. The northern and southern façades are topped with a cornice. The window openings are rectangular in shape, with segmental arches. The double door positioned on the axis of the front façade features a transom light.

Site accessible to visitors.

compiled by Tomasz Rogala, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 15-12-2014.

Bibliography

  • Dobroński A. Cz., Miasta województwa podlaskiego, Białystok 2014, p. 265.
  • Katalog Zabytków Sztuki w Polsce, vol. XII, Województwo białostockie, issue 1, Siemiatycze, Drohiczyn i okolice, compiled by Kałamajska-Saeed M., Warsaw 1996, p. 71.
  • Record sheet, Siemiatycze. Dom talmudyczny, compiled by Tomecka B., 1991, Archive of the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Białystok.
  • Leszczak M., Synagoga w Siemiatyczach, “Białostocczyzna”, no. 3, 1987, pp. 23-25.
  • Trzebiński W., Działalność urbanistyczna magnatów i szlachty w Polsce XVIII wieku, Warsaw 1962, pp. 83-94.

General information

  • Type: sacral architecture
  • Chronology: k. XIX w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Pałacowa 10, Siemiatycze
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district siemiatycki, commune Siemiatycze (gm. miejska)
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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