Scandal in Ząbki near Warsaw. The unlawful demolition of the villa of the Ronikiers has outraged residents and architecture lovers alike and quickly gained publicity. The owner destroyed the neo-Baroque villa without having any permits to do so. The building on Wyzwolenia Street was built around 1920 as the summer residence of Adam Feliks Ronikier – designer of the garden city of Ząbki.
The villa was located at what is now 21/23 Wyzwolenia Avenue. The spacious building with its interesting architecture was the last reminder of the former owners of Ząbki. The Ronikiers’ palace proper was located in the vicinity of Westerplatte and Piłsudskiego Streets. It was demolished in 1947.
The villa in 2021. Photo Ząbki – see the surroundings
Count Adam Feliks Ronikier (1881 – 1952) parcelled out his land in 1905 for the construction of villa and garden residences, and together with the Association for the Construction of the City Garden, launched a competition for the design. In 1912, the work of the winner, engineer Tadeusz Tolwiński, author among other things of the building of the National Museum in Warsaw, was selected. The laying out of streets, squares, squares, sites for the stadium and the entire entertainment complex, and even a tunnel under the Warsaw-Petersburg Railway began. The construction of the Ząbec garden city was not fully realised, but the street layout seems to have remained unchanged. Among those who built their villas there were General Sikorski, General Sosnkowski, M. Jankowski – vice-president of Warsaw, and Eng. Karol Tolloczko.
The villa in 2011 and during demolition. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain and Agata Osytek
Unfortunately, the Ronikiers’ villa, which had been uninhabited for years, was falling into increasing disrepair. At the beginning of February this year, heavy equipment entered the property and the demolition of the historic building began. A person involved in the case, who prefers to remain anonymous, reports that the shocked residents immediately called building control representatives to the site. When they arrived, they found that no permit had been issued for the demolition work and no such documents had been submitted to the district governor either.
“The starost would not have signed off on them. The supervisor had been inspecting the building for many years and, according to them, it was in such good condition that they too would not authorise the demolition. On one autumn morning last year, a mini-excavator drove onto the property and hit the pillars, causing the balcony to collapse. Afterwards, it drove off. The whole thing lasted only a few minutes,” – says the informant. Fortunately, this did not escape the attention of concerned neighbours and there are eyewitnesses to the event. Immediately after this act of vandalism, the villa was fenced off and a sign was hung stating that the structure was in danger of collapsing.
The building in 2011 and during demolition. Photo: Google Maps and Agata Osytek
“It is clear that the new owner wanted to take advantage of this provision. On Saturday a mass of street residents gathered, there were police etc. A halt to the demolition was ordered, but as soon as everyone dispersed, the excavator was immediately launched and finished the job. What was left of the historic villa was a pile of rubble. We are mobilising on this issue and forming a committee. Letters have already gone out to the municipality, the supervisor and the conservator.”
The head of the building supervision decided today to notify the public prosecutor’s office. The municipal authorities also addressed the case, informing that they had been trying to save the building for years, including making offers to the owner to buy it and trying to enter the villa in the register of monuments. There was an opportunity for the city of Ząbki to take over the property by way of a donation, but the owner withdrew at the last minute. The relevant services are currently investigating on what basis the demolition work was carried out.
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