Former Velthusen Palace, currently serving as the school of music, Szczecin
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Former Velthusen Palace, currently serving as the school of music

Szczecin

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The most impressive urban palace in Western Pomerania, combining Baroque and Classicist influences. Its distinctive features include the harmonious architectural form and sumptuous sculptural detailing, making it an important part of the urban landscape of one of the main market squares of the Old Town area - the former Horse Market.

History

The palace was erected at the corner of Staromłyńska street - which had once led towards the northern exit from the city - and Łaziebna street, in the vicinity of the former Horse Market, currently known as Plac Orła Białego (White Eagle Square). The area was incorporated into the chartered town after the mid-13th century. In the mid-17th century, the owner of the prominent, corner parcel of land was Georg Götzke, while in the years 1681-1709, the land remained in the hands of Daniel Starck. During the period around 1659, the neighbouring plot of land on Staromłyńska street was the property of Emanuel May. The latter parcel of land was purchased in 1709 by Samuel Bartz, a wine merchant hailing from Berlin; later on, he also acquired the neighbouring plot of land from Daniel Starck. One cannot determine with any degree of certainty whether the transaction took place before or after the buildings standing on both plots of land - along with the entire frontage of the Horse Market - have been destroyed during the Russian siege of the city and the artillery barrage that followed. From ca. 1724 until 1746, both neighbouring plots of land remained in the hands of the director of the Szczecin military and treasury chamber, counsellor Joachim Albrecht von Laurens, followed by his legal successors. It is believed that the redevelopment of the empty lots may have started at that point, with their owners obtaining the aid of the King of Prussia himself for that purpose. In 1746, the land came into the hands of count Friedrich Wilhelm von Eichstädt, the royal chamberlain; later on, after the year 1756, it was acquired by Christian Friedrich von Ramin, the president of the district (Regierungspräsident). In 1778, the large, corner plot of land was purchased for 6100 thalers by Georg Christian Velthusen, a wine and timber merchant of Dutch origin, born in Wismar in 1742. During that same year, he has managed to encourage Mr Castner, his father-in-law and the mayor of Świnoujście, to lend him a further 2160 thalers for the purposes of “extending his house”. It is believed that the current palace was erected during that very time, based on the design sometimes attributed to Carl von Gontard, although a different architect of equal standing may have been involved as well; whoever he was, it is likely that he hailed from either Berlin or Potsdam, as Dutch architectural influences remained abundant in both of those cities at the time. The palace must have been in existence in the late 1780s, as evidenced by the fact that, shortly after the purchase of land by Velthusen, the land was covered by a fire insurance policy for the amount of a mere 4 thousand thalers, yet in 1787 the amount in question rose to a staggering 12 thousand. G. Ch. Velthusen became famous as one of the greatest suppliers of wine in all of Central Europe, with the products from his winery located in the basement of his house on Staromłyńska street being distributed all across Poland, the Netherlands and other countries, including the entire territory of Pomerania. The wealthy merchant died in 1803.

During the 18th century, the stable and carriage house were constructed in the hitherto empty yard; later on, in the first half of the 19th century, these were replaced by two-storey outbuildings. It is believed that the side wing positioned alongside Łaziebna street was added during the same period. In 1819, Georg Christian’s son, Jan Ferdinand, sold the palace to a merchant named K. F. Werner. During the years that followed, the property changed ownership on numerous occasions. In the years 1874-1920, it belonged to Mr Wolkenhauer, a piano manufacturer, who had his workshop moved to the site of the palace. In 1920, the building was purchased by the Pomeranian Girobank (Girocentrale Pommern), known later as the Provinzialbank. In 1923, the interiors were remodelled based on the design produced by the renowned architect Adolf Thesmacher, based in Szczecin. As a result of the works performed, most of the existing partition walls were removed, with the inner courtyard becoming an enclosed, two-storey space with a glazed roof beneath which the cash desks were located. It was in this condition that the building survived until its destruction in 1943, when all of its interiors were gutted by the blaze, leaving only the basements and peripheral walls. In years 1959-1962 the edifice was reconstructed, its new function being that of a secondary school with a musical profile. The design for the reconstruction was drawn up by S. Latour, R. Jaroszek and D. Ryżewska. The first stage of the reconstruction process was limited to the building’s interiors. The interiors received a completely new layout, with the former courtyard being replaced by a concert hall. The historic cellars were retained and restored, as was the original outline of the palace with its mansard roof. In the years 1969-1970, the attention of the building’s administrators turned to its façade detailing, with the damaged bust of ancient philosophers which had graced the façades being replaced by those of renowned classical composers in the process of restoration. The wall base was now lined with sandstone. The works were performed by the Szczecin Branch of the Historical Monument Conservation Workshops State Enterprise (PP PKZ), while the works on the sculptural detailing were entrusted to the Sculpture Workshop of the Warsaw Branch of PP PKZ, acting under the direction of the sculptor Krystyna Trzeciak. Modernisation and renovation works have been underway on the site of the palace from 2010 onwards. During that period, the rood cladding was replaced, with the additional attic space being adapted for new functions; in 2015, the façade was also restored, receiving a new colour scheme.

Description

The former Velthusen Palace is located in the central part of the Old Town district of Szczecin, at the corner of the Staromłyńska and Łaziebna streets which lead alongside the frontage of the former Horse Market, currently known as Plac Orła Białego (White Eagle Square). The front (eastern) façade of the palace faces the Staromłyńska street, while the longer, northern façade leads along the Łaziebna street.

The building combines both Baroque and Classicist influences, its architecture reminiscent of the traditions of Northern Baroque originating from the Netherlands - a style which older researchers usually referred to as the Zopfstil. Erected on an elongated, rectangular plot of land, the palace originally consisted of the corps de logis positioned alongside Staromłyńska street and a long side wing facing Łaziebna street; today, the palace occupies the entire parcel of land. The palace is a two-storey structure with a basement and attic, covered by a roof punctuated with dormer windows; the front section of the roof is of the mansard type, with a low gable roof used for the side section. The front façade follows a symmetrical, five-axial layout, while the side façade of the corps de logis and the side wing feature a four-axial and twelve-axial design respectively. All of the façades feature a tall, pronounced wall base and are partitioned with giant order Corinthian pilasters above which rises the entablature with a pronounced crowning cornice. The corners of the front section of the building are accentuated with rusticated quoins which also mark the first and the middle axis of the façade of the building’s side wing. The windows are framed with decorative surrounds, with the ground-floor window lintels being embellished with keystones flanked with garlands; the keystones above the first-floor window lintels, on the other hand, incorporate the sculpted heads of famous classical composers - Smetana, Paderewski, Wieniawski, Dworzak, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Verdi, Vivaldi, Glinka, Debussy, Sibelius, Mozart, Loewe, Beethoven, Bach and Grieg. The panels beneath the first-floor window sills are adorned with drapery motifs (swags suspended from two points on the outer panels and from three points on the inner ones). The panel beneath the window sill of the middle window in the front façade, on the other hand, is accentuated by a row of balusters positioned against the wall beneath - a motif which was also carried over to the panels under the windows on the first and the central axis of the side façade. The entablature architrave is adorned with foliate festoons. The main entrance preceded by two opposing flights of steps positioned in parallel to the wall is positioned on the middle axis of the front façade. The entrance portal is crowned with an architrave and a cornice, with the middle window on the first floor level being topped with a decorative pediment adorned with a rocaille motif and foliate festoons. A large, triangular pediment surmounted by a decorative urn rises above the crowning cornice, spanning the width of three middle axes. The pediment incorporates an elaborate, sculpted figural ensemble consisting of a group of putti brandishing wine barrels and various parcels. A similar scene adorns the pediment which crowns the side façade of the corps de logis, spanning the width of two middle axes. The interiors were completely remodelled during the period of postwar reconstruction. The current layout of the corps de logis is a three-bay one, with a one-and-a-half-bay layout used for the side wing, featuring a hallway separating the rooms in the front suite of rooms from the large concert hall which takes up the space of the former courtyard. A pair of staircase positioned on the side of Łaziebna street facilitate access to the first floor. The only surviving historic interiors are the cellars, where the original barrel vaults can still be admired.

The building is accessible to visitors during the school opening hours, upon arrangement with the headmaster.

compiled by Maciej Słomiński, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Szczecin, 15-06-2015.

Bibliography

  • Fredrich C., Das Haus Louisenstrasse 13, “Monatsblätter hrsg. von der Gesellschaft für pommersche Geschichte und Altertumskunde“, Jg. 37(1923), H. 3-4, pp. 10-12
  • Kąsinowska R. Szczecin, szkoła muzyczna (kamienica przy ul. Staromłyńskiej 13), dokumentacja konserwatorska z prac konserwatorskich elewacyjnych za okres 1969-1970, Szczecin 1970, typescript available at the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Szczecin
  • Kohte J., Das Haus in Stettin Louisenstrasse 13, “Monatsblätter hrsg. von der Gesellschaft für pommersche Geschichte und Altertumskunde“, Jg 39(19250, H. 6, p. 26.
  • Radacki Z., Kamienica przy ul. Młyńskiej 13 w Szczecinie, dokumentacja historyczno-architektoniczna, Szczecin 1960, typescript available at the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Szczecin
  • Słomiński M., Makała R., Paszkowska M., Szczecin barokowy, Architektura lat 1630-1780, Szczecin 2000, p.
  • Architectural monument record sheet, compiled by T. Wolender, 1993, typescript available at the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Szczecin

General information

  • Type: palace
  • Chronology: 2 poł. XVIII w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Staromłyńska 13, Szczecin
  • Location: Voivodeship zachodniopomorskie, district Szczecin, commune Szczecin
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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