Art Nouveau Pearl Restored
A historic tenement house in the heart of Warsaw has been restored to its prime following a painstaking renovation conducted by the city.
Formally known as Kamienica Maksymiliana Harczyka, it was designed by Dawid Lange, a Łódź-born architect who achieved longstanding fame for authoring – among others – the Grand Hotel, a place that later achieve cult status after featuring prominently in the David Lynch classic Inland Empire.
Lange’s Warsaw project was no less flamboyant. Completed around 1903, the tenement at Jasna 10 was constructed on the site of a former children’s hospital for the property speculator Maksymilian Harczyk.
Six floors in height, and with facades staring out across both Jasna and Sienkiewicza streets, it was an essay in pomp: embellished with cornices, decorative floor tiles, ornamental brass fittings, bas reliefs and balustrades forged in the form of stalks, it set the benchmark for an area that was about to undergo rapid growth and development.
To all intents and purposes, the area soon established itself as Warsaw’s financial heart with banks, insurance and credit institutions all clamoring for a piece of the postcode – within the space of a few decades modern Warsaw as we know it had been born, with the tenement joined by a spate of iconic neighboring landmarks such as House Under the Eagles and the Prudential Tower.
War brought new challenges, and in 1944 thirty-five people were burned alive whilst escaping German shelling.
On August 18th, with the Warsaw Uprising raging, dozens of people sought shelter from German gunfire by running into the courtyard only to find that their exit was blocked – scores died in the flames and a plaque now remembers their death.
With peace declared, Warsaw was a shattered shell of its former self. Of all the buildings in the former financial quarter, only the Harczyk tenement had survived, albeit with several dents and scars.
Later, the building went largely overlooked until a two-stage restoration project was launched in 2020. Now fully repainted in its original colors, and with its exterior motifs subjected to careful renovation, this exquisite fragment of Art Nouveau Warsaw has been returned to its full glory.
All photos: Biuro Stołecznego Konserwatora Zabytków
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