Świętej Barbary 4
Kamienica po remoncie. Fot. whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski

The Tolwinski House in Warsaw: the great return of a neo-Baroque gem

The tenement house at 4 Swieta Barbary Street in Warsaw is one of only two buildings that remained on the street after the Second World War. The rest of the burnt-out buildings were demolished and new buildings were partly built in their place. The damaged Tolwiński tenement was superficially repaired a year after the end of the war effort, and the work of destroying the rich façade was done during the renovation carried out in the 1970s. In 2015, Warsaw Attics began the painstaking process of restoring the pearl from Św. Barbary Street to its appearance from its glory years.

The history of the building at 4 Św. Barbary Street began when Stefania Tolwińska, owner of a private girls’ boarding school, decided to build a modern and impressive edifice for her school. In 1903, the first boarders moved into the newly built building designed by Mikołaj Tolwiński (the owner’s brother).

The tenement house after renovation. Photo: whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski

Świętej Barbary 4

The lavish façade of the three-storey tenement with two side outbuildings was done in a neo-Baroque style, arousing widespread admiration for its craftsmanship. The building was equipped with central heating and the walls in the classrooms were retractable, allowing the use of a room that stretched the width of the entire building. To ensure the comfort of her pupils, Stefania Tolwińska had additional living quarters prepared on the fourth floor of the building for girls from outside Warsaw.

The tenement house at 4 Świętej Barbary Street at the beginning of the 20th century and today. Source: Mazovia Digital Library and whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski

Boarding school girls in front of the building, pre-war and contemporary years. Photo: Archive of Igor Strojecki and whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski

The burnt-out walls of the tenement after 1944 and the rebuilt building today. Photo: Tygodnik Stolica no. 13 (1268) 26.03.1972 and whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski

The building was different from most women’s schools of the time, generally occupying improvised premises rented in rented houses. As soon as independence was regained, in the 1920/1921 school year, the institution was given the status of a state secondary school and took as its patron Maria Konopnicka, who had died 10 years earlier. Jadwiga Barszczewska-Michałowska became the new headmistress. During the Second World War, the building was partially burnt down. After the war, it was rebuilt without finials and pilasters, with the addition of a low fourth floor in turn. In the 1970s, another renovation of the edifice took place, as a result of which the original remains of the façade were covered up. In 2015, the company Warsaw Attics undertook the restoration of the building and restored it to its pre-war appearance.

The Tolwinski sisters’ tenement before and after the renovation. Photo: Google Maps and whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski

St Barbara Street in 2015 and 2024. Photo by Warsaw Attics and whiteMAD/Mateusz Markowski

Rich ornamentation and balconies with wrought-iron balustrades have returned to the facades – both front and backyard. The interiors are divided into 8 flats, whose residents have exclusive use of a club room, reception area and underground parking located under the courtyard of the building. A panoramic glass lift provides access to the clubroom, basement and all residential floors, while a meticulously restored staircase clad in white and black marble with an original hand-forged balustrade leads directly to the flats. The character of the décor is complemented by brass lamps, wooden stucco, original old cast-iron radiators from France and original cement tiles from Belgium.

An intimate green area has been created in the courtyard. The works were completed in 2018. The sale was handled by Magnat Select, an agency specialising in sales and marketing support for boutique developments.

Source: Magnat Select, sw-barbary4.warsaw-attics.pl

Also read: Architecture | Tenement | City | Warsaw | Architecture in Poland

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