Palace, Ząbrowo
Narodowy Instytut Dziedzictwa pl
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One of the most intriguing residences in Western Pomerania originating from the Late Historicist period.

History

The former knightly manor in Ząbrowo is known to have been the property of various families having no aristocratic roots whatsoever back in the 19th century as well as during the 20th century. The partially preserved manor house was constructed by the Wedler family in the 1880s. Based on archival photographs, one may suspect that the building was not accompanied by a park of any description back then, with the sole green areas being an orchard or garden. At that time, this country mansion was a two-storey building with a tall semi-basement, topped with a tall gable roof. The building was designed in the Eclectic style and featured exposed brick walls. The gable-end façade facing the nearby street was crowned by an impressive brick gable the appearance of which remains unknown today.

In years 1920-1922, major Kurt Neumann had the building redesigned, transforming it into a palace. It was also during that time that a park was established, featuring a large grassy meadow positioned near the palace itself. A new orchard was established on the western side of the building.

The construction works were performed by an architectural firm from Berlin, owned by Helmuth Grisebach, PhD. Eng., and Heinz Rehmann. The building was extended upwards through the addition of a single storey and topped with a mansard roof. According to the descriptions prepared by the architects themselves, the original roof truss was preserved and lifted upwards using a crane, after which it was redesigned, receiving its new appearance. A representational driveway was added in front of the palace, featuring a large ramp connecting the palace, positioned on a slight elevation, and the neighbouring utility building. The palace itself was redesigned in the Baroque Revival style, its new architectural décor being partially reminiscent of the forms typical of the Brandenburg variant of Baroque architecture. The façades were painted in a natural shade of ochre, with a more reddish shade used to emphasize the architectural detailing of the building.

The main, representational rooms were to be located along the middle axis of the ground floor section; these included the vestibule and hallway as well as the impressive drawing room facing the park beyond. A study and library were positioned inside the first suite of rooms from the west, while the eastern suite of rooms was intended to accommodate the kitchen, the pantry and the china room. A pair of rooms - one for the owner of the palace and one for his wife - were to be located in the western part of the second suite of rooms; the eastern part thereof was designed to accommodate the drawing room and the dining room. The bedrooms for the owners’ parents, the rooms for children (including the playroom), a room for the maids as well as two guest rooms and a number of other facilities - the dressing rooms (Ankleidezimmer), a closet (Schrankzimmer), sewing rooms (Nähstube) as well as bathrooms and lavatories - were all to be found on the first floor of the building.

During World War II, the palace was the witness of a series of tragic events that befell its owners. Jutta, the elder daughter of Kurt von Neumann, was married to Georg Schulze-Büttger, who was then executed by the Nazis following the failed assassination of Adolf Hitler by Claus von Stauffenberg on July 20, 1944 at the Wolfsschanze (Wolf’s Lair) bunker. Schulze-Büttger served as an aide to general Ludwig Beck - the Chief of General Staff of the Fourth Panzer Army between July and August of 1944. Along with Henning von Tresckow, he tested various types of explosives on the Smoleńsk proving grounds, with the intention of constructing a bomb. As Schulze-Büttger stood trial, his wife Jutta was being interrogated by the Gestapo back in Ząbrowo. Since the Gestapo operatives were staying at the palace from the moment her husband was arrested, Jutta has managed to secretly leave the area along with her children, leaving the rest of the family behind, the idea being that both they and the rest of the residents of the village would join them at a later date. This, however, was never meant to be. In 1945, shortly before the arrival of the Soviet Army, captain Kurt Neumann, the owner of the palace, committed suicide along with his wife and their younger daughter.

After the war, the property was nationalised. In the 1970s, Ząbrowo remained in the hands of the Redle agroindustrial association, forming part of the branch thereof located in Lekowo. The palace was used as an office building which also contained a common room and a doctor’s surgery. No major construction works were performed on the site during the postwar period. Today, the palace remains private property. Unfortunately, both the palace and the surrounding grange have been slowly descending into a state of ruin from the 1990s onwards. Some of the utility buildings have been demolished. The palace remains abandoned and continues to dilapidate at an alarming pace.

Description

The palace is situated in the northern part of the village, alongside the main village road. A park lies to the south and east of the palace, while the grange is located north of the structure. Remnants of an old orchard or garden can still be discerned in the eastern part of the complex. A part of the park and the utility yard is located at a slight elevation in relation to the courtyard and the village road. The front façade of the palace faces north, in the general direction of the utility yard.

The palace was designed in the Baroque Revival style, its overall form reminiscent of the Brandenburg variant of Baroque architecture. Designed on a rectangular floor plan, the palace features rectangular avant-corps in the middle of both of its longer façades, an annex adjoining the eastern side façade as well as a semi-hexagonal avant-corps projecting from the western façade. The palace itself is a two-storey structure with a tall semi-basement, covered with a mansard roof with eyebrow dormers and a wall dormer above the rear avant-corps. The western annex features a rooftop terrace.

The entire edifice is made of brick, its walls covered with plaster. The lower portion of the roof is clad with beaver-tail roof tiles, with overlapping roof tiles used for the upper section instead. The casement windows are embedded in the walls. The basement level features segmental ceilings made of brick and supported by steel girders, with wooden beamed ceilings (with sound boarding) used for the overground storeys.

The façades feature a pronounced socle section and are topped with a simplified entablature featuring a pronounced crowning cornice. The corners of the corps de logis and the rear avant-corps are accentuated with lesenes, the upper parts of which are further embellished with plasterwork decorations in the form of stylised tassels which had once been a popular addition to Baroque draperies. The windows are topped with segmental arches and framed by plain surrounds with keystones. Both of the long façades of the palace maintain a rigorous symmetry of design. The three-axial avant-corps projecting from the eleven-axial front façade is adorned with two pairs of giant order Ionic pilasters, their capitals surmounted by impost blocks. Crowning the front avant-corps is a triangular pediment with a split entablature. On the first-floor level, above the entrance, there is a balcony with a decorative metal balustrade upon which the date “1920” has been displayed. The façades are covered with through-dyed plaster featuring a coarse, decorative texture. The architectural detailing in the form of pilasters, the crowning cornice and the window and door surrounds are accentuated through the use of smooth plaster with a slightly reddish hue, contrasted against the wall surface plasterwork the colour of natural ochre.

The palace interiors follow a two-and-a-half-bay layout with a central hallway. The entrance vestibule is positioned in the front section of the palace, on its middle axis, its position mirrored by the grand drawing room in the rear suite, its windows overlooking the garden. Access to the first floor is made possible by a pair of staircases which flank the central vestibule. The main, representational staircase is separated from the vestibule by an arcade consisting of three round arches. The second, utility staircase positioned on the eastern side of the vestibule is accessible from the kitchen as well as from the hallway. Inside the vestibule there is an impressive, grand fireplace surround, with volutes supporting the mantlepiece and the chimney breast above. The rectangular fireplace opening is framed with a decorative surround bearing the hallmarks of the Rococo Revival style.

Currently, the site is a private property.

compiled by Radosław Walkiewicz, Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Szczecin, 10-11-2014.

Bibliography

  • Grisebach Helmut, Rehmann Heinz, Unsere Bauten Belin-Halensee 1926, pp 28-29
  • Kępińska Maria, Katalog XIX -wiecznych dworów i pałaców. Szczecin 1983, issue: Ząbrowo. Typescript available in the collection of the Regional Branch of the National Heritage Board of Poland in Szczecin.
  • Vollmer Antje Ich wusste, dass ich so gerne weiterleben wollte, Die Welt- online (20.07.2012). Link: http://www.welt.de/108336299

General information

  • Type: palace
  • Chronology: 2 poł. XIX w.
  • Form of protection: register of monuments
  • Address: Ząbrowo
  • Location: Voivodeship zachodniopomorskie, district świdwiński, commune Świdwin
  • Source: National Heritage Board of Poland

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