Augsburg Evangelical church of St Stephen, Toruń
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Augsburg Evangelical church of St Stephen

Toruń

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The church constitutes an example of a building erected in accordance with the program for Protestant church architecture known as the Wiesbadener Programm (Wiesbaden program), announced in 1891. Numerous similarities exist between this church and the churches designed by Johannes Otzen, including those in Apolda and Elbląg. At a local level, the church remains a part of the urban design concept inspired by the Vienna Ring Road and covering the areas freed up through the demolition of the medieval fortifications which had once surrounded the town.

The entire complex is situated in the area inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list which also forms part of the monument of history designated as “Toruń - Old and New Town District”.

History

The church was erected to serve the needs of the Reformed Evangelical community. The design was drawn up in 1901 by the Berlin-based architect Richard Gans. The construction works were completed in the final months of 1902, following a brief hiatus resulting from a worker’s strike. In order for the works to continue as planned, a group of brickmasons was brought in from Italy. The cornerstone was laid in June 1903. In the August of the same year, the structural arches supporting the vaults have collapsed due to an error in their design. This fact has made it necessary for the design of the vaulted ceilings to be readjusted. Once the works were completed, the church was consecrated on February 18, 1904 in the presence of superintendents Deoblin and Hundertmarck.

The fixtures and fittings were purchased for the funds donated by the members of the local community. The pipe organ casing was created by Maks Terlecki, an organ builder from Elbląg. The baptismal font, pulpit and pews were crafted at the local woodworking shop owned by Paul Borkowski. The stained glass windows which grace the church were created by Adolf Seiler from Wrocław. The painting depicting the Adoration of the Apocalyptic Lamb, dating back to the early 17th century, was placed inside the church after being relocated from the Evangelical church of the Holy Trinity; the main altarpiece, dating back to ca. 1904, originates from another Evangelical church, located in Nowa Wieś, and was moved here when the church faced closure. After World War II, the church was entrusted to the local Augsburg Evangelical community and remains the centre of the only parish of this confession in Toruń.

Description

The church is situated on a plot of land at the intersection of Wały Gen. Sikorskiego, Prosta and Wysoka streets, beyond the area of the original chartered town, in the immediate vicinity of the northern section of the city walls.

The building was erected on a rectangular floor plan, with a short chancel on its western side. Its main body consists of a pair of naves, with the southern nave being twice as wide as the northern one. A tower designed on a square floor plan is positioned at the north-western corner, projecting slightly beyond the outline of the main body. A rectangular sacristy is positioned on the southern side of the chancel, while on the northern side there is a small corner turret, its structure partially merged with that of the chancel. The main body of the church follows a four-bay layout. The bay positioned adjacent to the tower is occupied by the organ gallery. The naves are separated by pointed-arch arcades positioned on stone columns. The interior is graced by cross-rib vaulting resting on structural arches.

The dominant feature of the silhouette of the church is the tower positioned at the north-eastern corner. The main nave is covered with a gable roof, while the side aisle features a trio of transversely positioned gable roofs. The chancel is covered with a three-sided roof, while the roof of the sacristy is of a two-sided design.

The façade of the church rise above a two-stepped socle topped with a sill made of glazed brick. The eastern facade also follows an asymmetrical design, reflecting the internal divisions of the naves. The northern side of the façade is crowned with a triangular gable; the façade of the tower, forming the southern part of the front façade, extends slightly ahead of the rest of the wall. The northern corner of the front façade features a diagonal buttress. The main entrance portal, topped with a wimperg and featuring a pointed-arch entrance door with archivolt reveals, is positioned on the axis of the front façade and preceded by a flight of steps. The pinnacles flanking the wimperg are positioned atop a pair of two-stepped, diagonally positioned buttresses. Above the portal there is a lavishly designed rose window with a profiled edge. The lower edge of the gable is accentuated with a broad, arcaded frieze consisting of a series of small, pointed arches supported by slender, glazed engaged columns rising above the slanted sill which caps the wall below. An almost identical frieze runs below the first-floor level of the tower, adorning all the visible sides thereof. The triangular gable of the front façade is flanked by a pair of horizontal parapet sections and topped with a metal cross. The gable itself is adorned by a trio of pointed-arch blind windows rising above the slanted sill at the bottom, with the middle blind window being much taller than the side ones, giving the whole arrangement a stepped appearance. Each of the blind windows is adorned with brick tracery consisting of a pair of lancets surmounted by oculi incorporating a polyfoil motif.

The façades of the tower consist of three distinct sections, mirroring the number of storeys within. At the ground-floor level, on the western side, there is a pointed-arch window with a pronounced sill, adorned with tracery in the form of a trio of lancets. The northern façade features a pointed-arch entrance door preceded by a flight of steps, with a small overlight. An arcaded frieze runs between the first and the second storey. The walls of the second storey are accentuated with lesenes terminating in polygonal pinnacles topped with fleurons. The upper part of this section of the tower is adorned with a frieze which follows the shape of the lesenes, resulting in a mitred appearance. The frieze band is adorned with small rosettes incorporating a trefoil motif. The spaces between the lesenes are occupied by two pronounced, pointed-arch blind windows on each side, with each of them incorporating a single narrow, slit-like window. The uppermost storey of the tower was designed on an octagonal plan. Each of the façades features a pointed-arch bell opening with tracery consisting of a pair of slender lancets and an oculus. At the top of the tower runs a plain frieze, above which there is a slanting sill made of brick, surmounted by a regular arrangement of eight triangular gablets. Each of the gablets incorporates a single blind oculus. The edges of the gablets are adorned with simplified crockets and a fleuron. Ornamental, geometric water spouts project from the spaces between the gablets. The tower is topped with an eight-faced spire, its surfaces punctuated by faux dormers.

The northern façade follows a three-bay layout. The individual bays are separated by tall buttresses and surmounted by triangular gablets with fleurons on top. The top section of the façade is separated from the bottom part by a cornice made of glazed brick. Each individual bay features a pronounced, pointed-arch window with a broad, slanting sill. The edges of the window openings are lavishly profiled, while the windows themselves are adorned with brick tracery, in each case consisting of a single rosette and a trio of lancets. Each of the gablets crowning the northern façade is adorned with a single pointed-arch blind window rising above a slanting sill. The southern façade follows a four-bay layout. Each individual bay features a similar design as in the case of the northern façade, albeit without the gablets.

The western façade is adjoined by the chancel and the sacristy, with the upper part of one of the buttresses and a section of the cornice projecting above the latter. The southern section of the façade is topped with a triangular gable of the main nave, flanked by a section of straight roof parapet on the northern side and the partially embedded corner turret on the southern side. A small, pointed-arch blind window is positioned in the centre of the gable, right below the roof ridge. The turret, designed on a rectangular floor plan, features an entrance set into a pointed-arch niche in the turret’s western façade. The section of the turret rising above the eaves of the roof is octagonal in shape. A plain, brick frieze runs directly beneath the octagonal turret spire, featuring a slightly gentler lower slope at the base. The walls of the turret are punctuated by narrow slits.

The corners of the chancel are reinforced by two pairs of buttresses positioned at a right angle towards one another; above the buttresses, the northern and western walls of the chancel are adorned with an arcaded frieze, its design virtually identical to that of the frieze adorning the front façade. A pronounced rose window with decorative tracery takes pride of place in the middle of the western façade.

The façades of the sacristy feature paired windows topped with blunt pointed arches as well as a single doorway on the western side.

Limited access to the monument. The complex may be viewed from the outside. Interiors of the church can be explored before and after church service or other religious ceremonies.

compiled by Piotr Dąbrowski, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Toruń, 14-12-2014.

Bibliography

  • Kucharzewska J., Architektura i urbanistyka Torunia w latach 1871-1920, Toruń 2004, pp. 240-248.

General information

  • Type: church
  • Chronology: pocz. XX w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Wały Generała Sikorskiego , Toruń
  • Location: Voivodeship kujawsko-pomorskie, district Toruń, commune Toruń
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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