Lower-secondary school (gymnasium), currently serving as the M. Konopnicka General Secondary School, Suwałki
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl

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Lower-secondary school (gymnasium), currently serving as the M. Konopnicka General Secondary School

Suwałki

photo

One of the oldest middle schools founded in any of the Polish district centres, considered to be one of the best and most prestigious establishments of its kind during the interwar period. The school building was designed by Antonio Corazzi - a renowned architect of the Classicist period, working mostly in Warsaw, where he designed numerous buildings commissioned by the various government authorities or other public institutions. He designed many palaces and government buildings, with the Grand Theatre in Warsaw also being a part of his impressive oeuvre.

History

The lower-secondary school (gymnasium) originally based at the former Dominican monastery in Sejny was relocated to Suwałki during the 1839/1840 school year. One year later, the school superintendent of the Warsaw Educational District elevated the status of the school to that of a governorate gymnasium. Initially, the school operated at a private tenement house on Kościuszki street. In 1842, a plot of land was purchased with the intent of erecting a new school edifice there, its design drawn up by none other than the famous architect Antonio Corazzi. The construction works conducted under the supervision of L. Jabłoński began on June 29, 1843, when the cornerstone was embedded; two years later, the building was completed. In 1846, the school received its fixtures and fittings and was ready to open its doors to the public, which it did before the end of the year. The complex consisted of a two-storey front building, single-storey wings flanking the inner yard and the taller structure at the end of the yard which served as the school chapel. Deeper within the same land lot stood a small, single-storey building known as the “armoury” or lecture hall. In 1905, a strike took place at the school. The students demanded that they be taught by Polish teacher and that classes be held in the Polish language. In the years 1909-1914, a clandestine patriotic club operated at the school, publishing its own periodical known as Przedświt (Daybreak). During World War I, the entire gymnasium was evacuated deep into the Russian territory. In 1919, a new, coeducational school was established, divided into two sub-units - the Maria Konopnicka School for Girls and the Karol Brzostowski School for Boys. During World War II, the school was closed down, with the teachers who worked there facing arrest. After the war, the secondary school resumed its operations; in 1957, it was named after the famous writer Maria Konopnicka. In the 1990s, the building underwent a thorough renovation. Today, the building serves as the Maria Konopnicka General Secondary School no. 1.

Description

The building is part of the dense cluster of buildings forming the southern frontage of the A. Mickiewicza street, standing opposite the Park of the Constitution of May 3 and the church of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. The school building is located between the town hall on one side and a tenement house on the other.

It was designed in the Classicist style.

Erected on a quadrangular floor plan with an inner courtyard, the structure consists of a rectangular front building, two side wings positioned at a right angle towards the front section as well as the southern wing which features a rectangular projecting section in its middle, extending southwards and positioned at a right angle towards the southern wing itself. The interiors of both the main body and the side wings follow a one-and-a-half-bay layout. The front building is a two-storey structure with a taller middle avant-corps topped with a separate roof. The side wings are single-storey structures likewise covered with gable roofs, while the southern projecting section is also single-storey structure, albeit taller than the southern wing from which it extends. The projecting rear section, much like the other parts of the school building, is covered with a gable roof. A small, modern building adjoins the eastern side of this section of the structure. The building is made of brick, its walls covered with plaster. The front façade follows a fifteen-axial layout and features a short, three-axial avant-corps and two side avant-corps, all of them topped with triangular pediments. The walls of the ground-floor level of the gymnasium building are adorned with decorative rustication - a pattern which also extends to both storeys of the side avant-corps. The ground-floor level is separated from the rest of the façade by a string course, with a pronounced, profiled crowning cornice rising above the second storey. The crowning cornice also runs across the façade of the central avant-corps, accentuating the pediment above. The main entrance is located on the ground-floor level, on the middle axis of the avant-corps. The side avant-corps feature a gateway leading into the area behind the building (eastern avant-corps) as well as a side entrance into the building itself (western avant-corps). The windows at the ground floor level are topped with semicircular arches, while the first-floor windows are purely rectangular in shape and framed with decorative surrounds. All windows are divided into small panes. A cast iron balcony with an openwork balustrade projects from the central avant-corps right above the entrance; it is accessible by means of a balcony door resembling a French window. The windows of the middle avant-corps feature semi-circular transom lights framed with lavishly profiled surrounds. The gateway leading into the area behind the building likewise features a semi-circular overlight. The remaining façades feature a smooth plaster finish (with the exception of a rusticated section in the southern part of the structure) and are topped with crowning cornices. The southern façade features a pair of semi-circular windows which pierce the gable walls of both sections of the southern building. The interior of the gymnasium building is graced by a decorative cast iron staircase.

The building can be viewed from the outside.

compiled by Joanna Kotyńska-Stetkiewicz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok, 27-01-2016.

Bibliography

  • Czapska A., Architektura XIX w. w Suwałkach, [in:] Studia i materiały do dziejów Suwalszczyzny, Białystok 1965.
  • Piłaszewicz Z., Suwałki. Studium historyczno-urbanistyczne do planu zagospodarowania przestrzennego, Białystok 1979, typescript of the Polish Monument Conservation Workshops (PPKZ), archive of the Regional Office of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Białystok;
  • Suwałki miasto nad Czarną Hańczą, J. Kopciał (ed.), Suwałki 2005.
  • http://1lo.suwalki.pl/historia-szkoly/

General information

  • Type: public building
  • Chronology: 1843-1845
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Adama Mickiewicza 3, Suwałki
  • Location: Voivodeship podlaskie, district Suwałki, commune Suwałki
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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