Roesler and Hurtig tenement house in Warsaw – one of the first department stores

The imposing Roesler and Hurtig townhouse standing at 79 Krakowskie Przedmieście in Warsaw is a building of not only architectural, but also historical importance. In the second half of the 18th century, one of the first department stores in Poland was opened there

It featured, among other things, a hitherto unheard-of solution: shop windows in which the goods on offer were displayed. Up to that time, in order to see the assortment of the shop one had to go inside or display the goods outside

The Roesler and Hurtig building today. Photo: whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski

Before the tenement house was built on this site, the Malachowski Palace was erected on the side of Senatorska Street in the mid-18th century. In 1784, the property was sold to merchants from Bohemia and Moravia: Jan Michal and František Leopold Roesler and Gaspar Hurtig. The tenement house was built in the palace courtyard between 1784 and 1785 according to a design by Szymon Bogumił Zug. It was the first such modern commercial and residential house on Polish soil with specially designed shop windows. It was one of the most expensive and luxurious commercial buildings in Warsaw. The floors housed rental flats and flats of the owners

The tenement house in 1937 and today. Source: State Archive in Warsaw and whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski

The building after the destruction of 1939 and today. Source: NAC – National Digital Archive and whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski

Between 1887 and 1888, the tenement house was rebuilt in connection with the breakthrough of Miodowa Street to Krakowskie Przedmieście. Until then, the owners of the Malachowski Palace and the tenement house were obliged to let pedestrians pass between the streets, which increased the attractiveness of the tenement house and its outbuildings for commercial businesses. During the defence of Warsaw in September 1939, the building burnt down and was demolished to the first floor. Further damage occurred in 1944 during the Warsaw Uprising. In 1948-1949 the building was rebuilt according to a design by Zygmunt Stępiński. The building was essentially restored to its 18th-century state, excluding the reconstruction of the southern outbuilding
In 1965, the building was entered in the register of historical monuments


Read also: Architecture | Tenement | City | Warsaw | Architecture in Poland

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