Elewacja kamienicy Ursyn-Rusieckiego. Fot. whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski

The tenement house at Lwowska 13 in Warsaw: a masterpiece of early modern urban architecture

The tenement house at 13 Lwowska Street in Warsaw is an exceptional example of early modern urban architecture. The building, erected between 1911 and 1912 to the order of Stanisław Filip Ursyn-Rusiecki, not only survived the turbulent history of the 20th century unscathed, but also retained much of its original character. Today, the elegant townhouse is one of the most impressive in this part of the city.

The tenement was commissioned by Stanisław Filip Ursyn-Rusiecki, an art lover and collector who came from a landed gentry family from Ukraine. Ursyn-Rusiecki, known for his passion for art, especially glass and mirrors, commissioned the construction of a tenement to reflect his passion. The tenement was most likely designed by Józef Napoleon Czerwiński and Wacław Heppen, architects responsible for many other famous buildings in Warsaw. There is also the possibility that Kazimierz Prokulski collaborated on the project.

Tenement houses at 13 and 15 Lwowska St. The photo (scan) comes from the album “Warsaw” published by Interpress 1985

Lwowskiej 13

The tenement house has five storeys and is characterised by a brick structure with fireproof ceilings. The front elevation, symmetrical and six-axial, is richly ornamented, which gives the building an elegant and monumental appearance. There is strip rustication on the lower floors and the ground floor windows are closed with an arch. On the upper floors, the decorative balconies and bay windows are noticeable, decorated with stucco elements with floral themes such as climbing vines, baskets full of flowers or garlands. The façade is also decorated with delicate window bands and striking cornices.

Lwowskiej 13
The elevation of the Ursyn-Rusiecki townhouse. Photo: whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski

At the top of the building, around an oval window, is a ribbon supported by four bas-relief putti floating in space. The gabled roof is not visible from street level. Also noteworthy are the interiors of the building, richly decorated with heraldic motifs of the Ursyn-Rusiecki family. The staircases have marble staircases and the floors are decorated with ceramic tiles. Door and window decorations and numerous architectural details testify to the high level of craftsmanship of the artists who worked on the interior decoration.

The elevation of the Ursyn-Rusiecki tenement house. Photo: whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski

At the same time as the tenement, a palace was built in the courtyard. Built on a rectangular plan, the building is maintained in an eclectic style. It formerly served as a storage place for Ursyn-Rusiecki’s valuable collection, which included miniatures, paintings, manuscripts, old prints, porcelain, engravings, textiles and militaria. The main entrance to the palace, framed by columns supporting a balcony, is decorated with the Rusiecki family’s Rawa coat of arms. During World War I and as a result of border changes, Stanisław Ursyn-Rusiecki lost his property and had to rent premises in the palace. In 1932, due to debt, he sold the property to Ludwik and Maria Pannenko. The palace housed the private maternity clinic “Sano”, which operated until 1944. During the Warsaw Uprising, the building housed an insurgent hospital.

The palace in the courtyard. Photo by Wistula, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Both buildings at 13 Lwowska Street survived the war without major damage and from 1954 the palace housed the Management Board of the Trade Union of Workers of Culture and Art, while the front building, apart from private flats, housed institutions, associations or lawyers’ offices. All renovations to the buildings, although not always comprehensive, have helped to preserve their historic character. A few years ago, a comprehensive renovation of the buildings began, which will bring out their true beauty. A new, refreshed look has already been given to the façade of the building, among other things, but access to the interior of the building is limited.

Source: nepomuki.pl

Read also: tenement | Warsaw | Architecture in Poland | Curiosities | whiteMAD on Instagram

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