The Marian Gymnasium, currently serving as the Comprehensive School Complex no. 9, Szczecin
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The Marian Gymnasium, currently serving as the Comprehensive School Complex no. 9

Szczecin

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The building was erected for the Marian Gymnasium - the oldest secondary school in the city of Szczecin, continuing the traditions of the parish school that had once functioned alongside the Marian Church as well as those of the Ducal Academy. The edifice, designed in the Classicist style, is currently the oldest surviving educational building in Western Pomerania - an example of fine, quality architecture exhibiting an admirable clarity of overall design and façade divisions, coupled with the restrained form and austere detailing which were the defining features of Late Classicism.

History

In the year 1390, a school for boys operating alongside the Marian Church in Szczecin was established once the necessary approval was obtained from pope Boniface XI. In 1543, duke Barnim XI appointed a Marian Foundation Academy, likewise attached to the local church. It was for this institution that a new building was erected in 1550, replacing the western wing of the cloister at 25 Mariacka street. In 1642, the school was referred to as a Gymnasium; later on, in 1667, the king of Sweden conferred upon it the title of Gymnasium Carolinum. In December 1677, when the city was besieged by the armies of Brandenburg, the school building was completely gutted by fire which broke out in the neighbouring Marian Church. A lot of time has passed before the building was fit for use again, with the renovation and alteration works reaching completion in 1744. In the meantime, following the incorporation of Szczecin into the Prussian territories, the school was renamed as the Academic Gymnasium (1716) and then as the Royal and Municipal Gymnasium following the merger with the Secondary School maintained by the municipal council in 1805. In the early 19th century, the existing premises came to be viewed as much too cramped; as a result, the Marian Foundation filed a request with the municipal authorities, asking for permission to erect a new building. In 1826, the involvement of von Sack, the senior president (Oberpräsident) of the province, made it possible to appoint a dedicated commission which began the negotiations concerning the construction of the new building, which was to be erected on the site of the Marian Church that was lost to the blaze in 1789 and subsequently demolished in 1829. The municipal authorities allocated the amount of 20 thousand thalers for the construction of the new building, 9 thousand out of which was provided by the Marian Foundation, while a further 9 thousand was granted as a royal subsidy. The design for the new building was drawn up by a man named Scabell, a building counsellor, who may have used a sketch by Karl Friedrich Schinkel as a basis for his work. The ceremony during which the cornerstone was laid took place on August 3, 1830, with Scabell being tasked with directing the actual construction works; the man responsible for the masonry was Mr Bessin, while the task of supervising the carpentry works fell upon Mr Kämerling, a master carpenter. The construction works were finally completed on September 10, with the school being consecrated on October 15, 1832, although new fixtures and fittings were still being installed throughout the months and years that followed. A donation earmarked for decorative works inside the auditorium was made by Mr Hasselbach, while a large portion of the price of a pipe organ to be installed inside the said auditorium was provided by Mr Dreher, a member of the municipal council. The building was originally shorter than it is today, with each of its shorter façades featuring just one, centrally positioned avant-corps. All of the first-floor windows were topped with semi-circular arches, with the date “MDCCCXXXII” proudly displayed on the middle façade. During the second half of the 19th century, the number of students has risen dramatically, especially since a four-form elementary school also operated on the premises from 1870 onwards. Due to the need for more interior space, the building was extended by two window axes on both sides. During the period in question, the uppermost storey of the gymnasium housed a valuable library with a collection of books consisting of approximately 30 thousand volumes. In the years 1935-1936, a restoration of the façade was carried out. As a result of aerial bombardment during World War II, the building was lost to the blaze. It was only in May 1960, that the reconstruction effort could begin in earnest, with the intention being for the reconstructed edifice to serve the needs of primary school no. 40. In the course of reconstruction, the outline of the second-floor windows was changed, with the semicircular arches in the older part of the buildings being replaced with rectangular windows; the central avant-corps projecting from the rear façade was an exception to this rule, however, with the existing windows being left unchanged. The shape of the openings on both sides of the main entrance door in the middle avant-corps projecting from the front façade was likewise changed, as were the interiors of the building, which now featured fire-resistant ceilings and staircases as well as a completely remodelled interior layout. In September 1974, the 9th general secondary school, established two years earlier, was allowed to move into the building. In 1976, the secondary school was merged with the extramural general secondary school named after the Commission of National Education, while one year later the General School Complex no. 6 was formed, combining all the educational institutions which operated in this location. In years 1981-1988, the building on Marian Square (Plac Mariacki) was also home to the State Secondary School of Music. In 1984, the 9th General Secondary School was named after the Heroes of Monte Cassino. From September 1, 2000, the school complex was joined by the lower-secondary school (gymnasium) no. 2, while on February 1, 2002 it was expanded to include the Adult School of General Education no. 1.

Description

The former Marian Gymnasium is located on the site of the now-vanished Marian Church, in the northern part of the Szczecin Old Town, between the Mariacka street, Farna street and the Marian Square (Plac Mariacki), positioned to the west, east and south of the building respectively. North of the school there is a row of the so-called professorial houses, which had once stood right next to the city wall, as well as the wing of the former church cloister, positioned perpendicularly towards the houses. The southern façade of the building faces the Marian Square, which occupies part of the site of the former church cemetery; today, the area is taken up by the school playground. At the corner of this very square, near Farna street, stands a building where Zofia von Anhalt-Zerbst - who would later become Catherine the Great, the Empress of Russia - was born.

The school itself is a Late Classicist edifice designed on an elongated rectangular floor plan, with a trio of avant-corps projecting from each of its longer façades. The middle avant-corps of the front façade is narrower than its counterpart projecting from the rear façade, while all of the side avant-corps positioned at the edges of the building are markedly narrower and less pronounced than the middle ones. Unlike the central avant-corps, these side projections are all of equal width. The school is a three-storey structure with a basement, its second floor much lower than the two lower storeys. The entire structure is covered with a low gable roof. The edifice is made of brick, its walls covered with plaster.

The ceilings above the ground floor as well as above the first and second floor are made of reinforced concrete and were added during the postwar reconstruction of the building, replacing the original wooden ceilings; only the basement level features barrel vaults made of ceramic brick, following the outline of a segmental arch and supported by iron beams. The roof is a brick and reinforced concrete structure, clad with roofing felt.

The façades feature a pronounced socle and are divided with cornices positioned at the level of the first and second floor, just beneath the window sills, supplemented by a crowning cornice above the second floor. All of the walls of the building are adorned with flat, two-dimensional rustication. All the windows - with the exception of the semicircular windows at the second-floor level of the central avant-corps projecting from the rear façade - are rectangular in shape, paired, flanked with plain lesenes and topped with entablature. Both of the longer façades of the building follow a symmetrical design, each featuring a trio of avant-corps. The front façade follows an eighteen-axial layout. The ground floor section of the central avant-corps follows a three-axial layout, with the main entrance preceded by a flight of steps. The upper levels of the avant-corps feature a six-axial design. The entrance, positioned in the middle of the avant-corps, is framed with a profiled surround and topped with both a cornice and entablature. It is flanked by a pair of identical openings which currently perform the function of windows.

The avant-corps is crowned with a low, triangular pediment with corniced edges and a small oculus in the middle. The side avant-corps follow a two-axial design and are topped with a plain, corniced roof parapet. The ground-floor section of the rear façade follows an eighteen-axial design, while the upper storeys are divided into twenty axes in total; a ten-axial, wide middle avant-corps projects from the rear façade, incorporating a pair of rear entrances leading into the staircases inside. The windows of the avant-corps at the ground-floor level are topped with a common entablature. The second-floor windows have been preserved in their original form, i.e. a row of five semicircular window openings, each divided into two by a wide, brick mullion. The avant-corps are similarly disposed as those of the front façade, with the middle one featuring a triangular pediment, whereas the side ones are crowned with simple parapet walls. Both of the side façades follow a six-axial layout and are topped with plain parapet walls; a side entrance preceded by a flight of steps is positioned in the middle of the western façade. The interior follows a two-and-a-half-bay layout, with a pair of half-turn staircases positioned in the side sections of the rear avant-corps.

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, 19-06-2015.

Bibliography

  • Fredrich C., Die ehemalige Marienkirche in Stettin und ihr Besitz, “Baltische Studien NF“, Jg. XXIII(1920)
  • Łuczak M., Szczecin Stare Miasto - Altstadt, Szczecin 2013, pp. 568-579
  • Architectural monument record sheet, compiled by C. Nowakowski, 1992, typescript available at the Regional Monuments Protection Office in Szczecin.

General information

  • Type: public building
  • Chronology: 1 poł. XIXw .
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: pl. Mariacki 1, Szczecin
  • Location: Voivodeship zachodniopomorskie, district Szczecin, commune Szczecin
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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