Art Nouveau at its best: the Rackman House on Jerozolimskie Avenue

On Jerozolimskie Avenue, several extremely impressive buildings from the early 20th century have survived to this day. Among them is a true pearl of Warsaw Art Nouveau, located at number 47. The impressive tenement house was built between 1905 and 1906 and designed by the excellent architect Ludwik Panczakiewicz. The building was not destroyed during the war, thanks to which it has retained its former appearance to this day, although not without minor changes. The tenement at 47 Jerozolimskie Avenue is one of the best preserved buildings in Warsaw with uniform Art Nouveau ornamentation.

The impressive tenement house at the corner of Jerozolimskie Avenue and Poznańska (then Wielka) Street was built for the industrialist Wilhelm Rackman. From the very first moments, it became a symbol of wealth and metropolitanity. Its interiors housed the Municipal Savings Bank until the outbreak of war in 1939. The Art Nouveau five-storey building is characterised by a large octagonal dome above the truncated corner, with a lantern and kidney-shaped windows in the tambour.

Aleje Jerozolimskie 47

The building has rich Art Nouveau decoration in the form of female masks, mascarons, various floral motifs and windows characteristic of the style. The elevation from the side of Jerozolimskie Avenue is embellished with a bay window to which balconies adjoin on the sides. The balcony on the Poznańska Street side is set on owl-shaped brackets, with representations of swans on its sides. Even before 1939, the metal railing and masonry sections that crowned the façade had been removed.

The tenement in 1907 and 2021. Photo: Jerzy Kasprzycki “Roots of the City – Warsaw Farewells” Volume I – Southern Downtown, publisher: Veda, Warsaw 2000 and Google Maps

The development of Jerozolimskie Avenue in the 1930s. Source: Digital National Library Polona and whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski

The flats inside the tenement ranged from two rooms in the attic to seven on the lower floors. The largest and most luxurious flats were equipped with high-standard bathrooms. They had, among other things, bathtubs built into the floor, Swedish showers and even heated towel racks. Their walls were tiled with decorative tiles and the floors were covered with colourful mosaics. The kitchens were equipped with modern English gas cookers.

Years 1918-1920, “General Haller’s Army in Poland. Infantry during a parade in Jerozolimskie Avenue in Warsaw” and the same place today. Source: Dziesięciolecie Polski Odrodzonej – księga pamiątkowa 1918-1928, published and distributed by the Ilustrowany Kuryer Codzienny, Światowid Na Szerokim Świecie Kraków – Warsaw 1928 and whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski

The preserved helmet of the tenement in the 1980s and today. The photo comes from the magazine “Encounters with Monuments” No. 5 (45) 1989 and whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski

There was a large staff at the disposal of the building’s inhabitants, among whom we can enumerate concierges, servants, cleaners, plumbers, stokers taking care of the building’s temperature and gardeners taking care of the greenery. The Rackman House survived the turmoil of war due to the fact that Nazi generals were stationed in its elegant interiors until the end of the uprising. The damaged finial of the picturesque dome was reconstructed in 2008.

47 Jerozolimskie Avenue in 2015 and 2024. Photo credit: May/, Licence: CC-BY-SA 3.0 and whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski

47 Jerozolimskie Avenue in 2015 and 2024 Photo by: may/, License: CC-BY-SA 3.0 and whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski

After 1945, new tenants moved into the building. The property then lost its luxurious character and its splendour dimmed considerably. In 1965, it was entered in the register of historical monuments. The building’s former charm was restored during the renovation of both facades in 2018. The city awarded a grant of approximately 85 per cent for this purpose.


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