Manor house, Śmiechów
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl
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The manor house in Śmiechów is an example of quality architecture exhibiting a high degree of artistry. Its uniqueness stems from the fact that it was designed in the Art Nouveau style, which remained practically absent from the architecture of the country homes of the Western Pomeranian nobility.

History

The history of both the mansion itself and its location remain shrouded in mystery. It has been determined that back in the 13th century, the village remained the fiefdom of an old Pomeranian family of von Damitz. The erstwhile name of the village was Schulzenhagen. During the 18th century, the manor was divided into three separate parts labelled A, B and C. Somewhere around the year 1804, “Schulzenhagen A” remained the property of lieutenant Carl Christoph Philipp von Heydebreck. In 1846, the manor was purchased by Karl Sirvent. In the address books published after that date, it was noted that the owner of the village of Śmiechów was Heinrich Mielke (years 1870-1905) and, later on, colonel Heinrich Reschke (1914). During the 1920s and the 1930s, the manor remained in the hands of Walter Friedländer, a man of Jewish origin. When the persecution of Jews began, in 1939 he passed the formal title to the land to his son, Hans Joachim, who would later become a well-known political activist in the German Democratic Republic. Hans Joachim Friedländer was the founder of a political organisation known as the Demokratische Bauernpartei Deutschlands (Democratic People’s Party of Germany). In 1940, he was discharged from the military due to his “half-Jewish” origin; later on, following the failed assassination attempt against Adolph Hitler, he was sent to a prison camp.

Judging by its architectural form, one may assume that the manor house was erected in the first quarter of the 20th century, most likely somewhere around the year 1910. It cannot be ruled out, however, that it attained its current form at a later date, when the manor remained in the hands of the Friedländer family. The original appearance of the building’s surroundings is likewise unknown. A pre-war postcard shows the manor house standing amidst a small park. A complex of manor farm buildings is believed to have originally stood in its immediate vicinity, towards the west and the south-west; today, all that remains of these buildings are a few small fragments. The overall design of the manor house was clearly influenced by the Art Nouveau movement. This was a rather unusual choice, for this style was seldom chosen for the residences of the nobility in the German territory. Western Pomerania is no exception to that rule, with the presence of the Art Nouveau design in the architecture of the local country mansions being limited to isolated decorative motifs the sole purpose of which appears to be to inject some variety into thoroughly traditional, historicist architectural forms. One may suspect that this state of affairs was partially attributable to the views held by the German Emperor William II himself, who openly declared that the Art Nouveau movement created a style that was corrupt and indecent in nature. The uniqueness of the manor house in Śmiechów also stems from the fact that the front façade decorations convey an openly political message which centres around socialist themes. Where a traditional heraldic coat of arms would normally take pride of place on the building’s façade, there is instead a decorative medallion incorporating the portrayal of a farm-hand brandishing a scythe. After World War II came to an end, the manor was nationalised and formed part of the machinery supply base of the local Farmers’ Cooperative in Śmiechów. Today, the manor house remains in private hands; its historical substance is being systematically damaged through successive transformations of its original appearance. One fact which has proved particularly detrimental to the aesthetic value of this unique building is that the shape and arrangement of some of the windows has been changed (with some of the windows being bricked up completely), while the original window joinery is being replaced in a manner which is utterly inconsistent with the shape of the surviving window casings.

Description

The manor house is located in the middle of the village which generally follows an informal layout, with buildings positioned alongside a single street. The northern façade of the manor house faces the main village road. To the west of the house lies a yard overgrown with trees and shrubs, while on its eastern side there is a field. Three small utility buildings are located in the immediate vicinity of the manor house, on the south-western side thereof.

The inclination of the building’s design towards the aesthetic adopted by the Art Nouveau movement is clearly evident, although some of the design solutions can also be said to be a nod towards the Baroque Revival style. The manor house was erected on a rectangular floor plan, its main body adjoined by numerous avant-corps projecting only slightly beyond its outline. The western entrance is preceded by a grand, impressive flight of steps and a terrace. A contemporary terrace with a flight of steps adjoins the southern side of the manor house. The building features a tall semi-basement and a low gable roof. The southern terrace is a two-storey structure.

The building was built of brick, its walls covered with plaster. The front (western) façade is flanked by a pair of avant-corps crowned with convexo-concave gables. The corners of the avant-corps are accentuated with lesenes and topped with pinnacles. The entrance, positioned on the middle axis of the house, is flanked with giant order pilasters. The side avant-corps are pierced with highly unusual window openings topped with segmental arches with an elevated rise. The windows of the middle section of the building’s corps de logis are rectangular in shape. The façade is adorned with lavish architectural detailing. One particularly notable feature is the stylised medallion above the main entrance. Although superficially reminiscent of a flamboyantly designed escutcheon, instead of a typical heraldic motif, its field carries the image of a farm-hand brandishing a scythe. The design of the windows is equally eye-catching, their lavishly stylised window surrounds and joinery forming an inseparable whole. The terrace preceding the entrance features a wrought-iron balustrade adorned with foliate and floral motifs. In addition, the façade is also adorned with flamboyant ornamentation decorations consisting of foliate and strapwork motifs. The other façades are devoid of architectural detailing. Only the avant-corps facing the road (on the northern side) was designed in a manner similar to the front façade, albeit with a much greater degree of restraint.

The interiors follow a three-bay layout with a spacious eastern vestibule. The western part of the vestibule contains a grand staircase preceded by a pair of flattened arches supported by a rectangular pillar. Other notable decorative fixtures of the building’s interior include the sumptuously designed doors incorporating both Art Nouveau and Baroque Revival influences.

The building is private property and may only be viewed from the outside.

compiled by Radosław Walkiewicz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Szczecin, 21-05-2015.

Bibliography

  • Berghaus H., Landbuch von Pommern und Rügen III Teils, Band I: Landbuch des Herzogthums Pommer und Fürstentums Pommern und Fürstentums Rügen. Enthaltend Schliderung der Zustände dieser Lande in der zweiten Hälfste des 19. Jahrhunderts, Anklamm-Berlin 1867,
  • Gwiazdowska-Banaszek E., Katalog dworów i pałaców woj. szczecińskiego. Szczecin 1982, Vol. 10: Śmiechów.
  • General-Adressbuch der Ritters -und Gutsbesitzer im Norddeutschen Bunde. Berlin 1870
  • General-Adressbuch der Ritters -und Gutsbesitzer im Deutschen Reiche. Berlin 1877
  • Pommersches Güter-Adressbuch. Stettin 1892, p. 106
  • Pommersches Güter-Adressbuch. Stettin 1905
  • Güter-Adressbuch für Provinz Pommern. Stettin 1920
  • Güter-Adressbuch für Provinz Pommern. Stettin 1928
  • Landwirtschaftliches Adressbuch der Provinz Pommern. Stettin 1939

General information

  • Type: manor house
  • Chronology: początek XX w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Śmiechów
  • Location: Voivodeship zachodniopomorskie, district koszaliński, commune Będzino
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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