Warsaw’s landmarks: tenement house on Mariańska Street in the shadow of skyscrapers

Before the Second World War, the area around Mariańska Street was densely built up with tenement houses. As a result of fighting and the demolition of the city by German troops, almost all the buildings disappeared. The single outposts were removed over the years for new developments. Only one house in the neighbourhood has survived to this day – Mariańska 1. In the past, there were plans to demolish this building too, and sell the plot. Fortunately, this did not happen and today the building is a unique and valuable reminder of the former development of Warsaw’s Śródmieście district.

The modernist-style tenement house, with sculptural detail by Zygmunt Ott and designed by Henryk Julian Gay, was completed in 1925. The building is four-storey with a rusticated ground floor and a rounded corner from the intersection of Mariańska and Pańska Streets. The façade features a cartouche with the inscription Kasa Chorych w Warszawie, two inscriptions in the bases of the pilasters with the signatures of the designer and the contractor, and a tympanum crowning the façade with a round window decorated with the inscription: Social Security in Warsaw. Above the corner door there is an inscription reading Pharmacy and the date of the building’s construction: 1925. Decorative window grilles with the motif of the letters KCh (from: Kasa Chorych) have been preserved on the building. The project was carried out by the well-known construction company Horn Brothers and Rupiewicz. In the 1930s, Janusz Korczak worked in the building.

The tenement house on Mariańska Street shortly after its construction. Source: Kasa Chorych 1920-27

przy Mariańskiej

During World War II, the building was located within the boundaries of the Little Ghetto. In 1940, the Jewish Nursing School, founded by Luba Blum Bielicka, was located there. The school was a continuation of the pre-war School of Nursing at the Old Jewish Hospital. After the displacement action, when this part of the city was excluded from the ghetto, the school was moved to another location. The nurses’ outfit guaranteed the students’ safety for a long time, but in 1943, when the ghetto was liquidated, the staff and students were shot. Very few, including the school’s founder, managed to survive. During the Warsaw Uprising, a field hospital was located in the building. It served as a medical base for soldiers of the “Chrobry II” grouping and civilian inhabitants of Warsaw.

The building survived the war without major damage and was rapidly renovated. Unfortunately, in view of the plans for a major redevelopment of this part of the city, it seemed that there was no bright future for it. However, the building was not affected by the demolition and luckily survived until 1975, when it was declared a listed building and thus under strict protection. In 2002, an attempt was made to have it removed from the list, but numerous protests, including from the conservation officer, prevented this from happening. Inside the building, numerous original elements have been preserved, such as the columns, the wrought-iron balustrade on the staircase and the floors lined with so-called “gorse tiles” arranged in fanciful patterns.

przy Mariańskiej

Since 2013, the pre-war tenement has been home to the CMP Mariańska Medical Centre. Over the years, multi-storey blocks of flats and skyscrapers have sprung up around the tenement. A lone monument in the midst of this landscape makes a remarkable impression and the buildings form an interesting architectural composition.

Source: warszawa.fandom.com, whu.org.pl

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