Żelazna 66

Today’s afternoon will be devoted to Żelazna Street. Mirów is an estate on the grounds belonging to two different quarters of Warsaw: Wola and Sródmieście. It used to belong to the old jurydyka of Wielopole; the estate’s name is a nod to a commander of a regiment of GKK (sometimes called Mirowska), a Scottish general who created the mirowski barracks, Wilhelm Mier. The estate is located between the following streets: Aleja Soldinarności Street, Orla Street, Elektoralna Street, Chłodna Street, Chłodna Street and Żelazna Street. The last one of those has a long, albeit sad, history. It now extends from a viaduct on Aleja Solidarności Street to Nowolipki Street. It’s nearly two kilometres long and is estimated to have been established in the second half of the XVII century. An additional fragment was added to it in the beginning of the XVIII century.

After that, in 1770, the street was regulated and officially named. The name was borrowed from Żelazna Karczma, an inn located on the crossroads of two streets, currently known as Sienna Street and Twarda Street. During the occupation, Żelazna Street was inside of the Warsaw Ghetto. The building which is of interest to us is situated at 66 Żelazna Street. It’s a townhouse, built before the beginning of World War I, in the years of 1910-1911, just a year after the parcel had been purchased. The building was designed by Henryk Stifelman. Its first owner was Haim Kielmanowicz Gerkowicz, who was also in possession of a neighbouring house at 46 Krochmalna Street. According to our research, he was additionally the proprietor of a townhouse at Jagiellońska Street.

The Żelazna Street had a big-city air, and so the aforementioned townhouse fit the overall character of the place perfectly. The building is three-storey high, triangular, and sits close to the crossing Krochmalna Street. What makes it remarkable is the corner of the triangular building, placed in a bay window. The gateway is also worthy of interest: it has beautiful, ceramic decorations on its walls. The original black and blue tiles with a delicate pattern are visible through the gate’s grille. Close up, one can notice that there are actually two patterns of the tiles, one on a lower level, one on a higher one. The original design is mostly gone, but there are two consoles on the top of the gate, which itself is new, put in place after the war. The façade used to be artistically decorated: both the ground floor and the upper storeys were ornamented with bossage, which is a decorative technique, dating back to ancient Rome. Nowadays, the façade is stripped of its previous elegance. The balconies on the side of Żelazna Street are placed on the second axis, on all of the storeys other than the ground floor.

What draws the eye of the beholder are the fine banisters of the balconies, some of which remain to current day. From the side of the Krochmalna Street, the building has 6 axes, with balconies placed on the penultimate one. From this side of the building, one can see a single-axial avant-corps of the staircase, with windows significantly larger than in the rest of the townhouse. The second entrance is located in the right gateway. The building is decorated with an ornamental cornice. The façade on the side of Żelazna Street bears a writing, now illegible, resembling some sort of initials.

The original layout of the townhouse was slightly different. There is no longer an annex at 46 Krochmalna Street. Additionally, the yard once had an adorned, metal water well. The building is currently unfit to use and, sadly, deteriorates year by year. The ground floor was once filled with commercial premises, but the storefronts were later on walled up, as well as the entrance of the staircase on the side of Krochmalna Street.

In a pre-war address book, we found information that the address once housed:
-a soapstore of Janina Bajda
-a sportswear producer, Em-Zet
-an upholster’s workshop
-a printery, Kometa

After the war, the address was taken over by: a drugstore, a clockmaker’s workshop and - on the corner - a shop selling brooms and brushes.

Finally, a cherry on top: one of the townhouse’s residents was Mieczysław Wajnberg (1919-1996). He was born in the very townhouse, whereby he spent his childhood and his youth. His father, Samuel, was a musician and a theatre employee, so Wajnberg’s musical talents and traditions came from his family home. His father was also the head of a music band in the famous, pre-war, Jewish Scala theatre (11 Dzielna Street), which was on of the most celebrated theatres in the Warsaw Ghetto. Samuel Wajnberg additionally managed the music department in a phonographic company Syrena Record (66 Chmielna Street). Mieczysław Wajnberg frequently assisted his father during rehearsals, he therefore knew the ins-and-outs of the art world. He studied in a Warsaw conservatory and, just like his father, worked in revue theatres and in dancing parlours. The outbreak of World War II found him in Warsaw, but he managed to escape to Belarus, where he spent two years. He then left Minsk for Taszkient and later on, in 1943, moved to Moscow with his wife. He remained there until his death. Wajberg is the author of numerous pieces. Before his departure from Poland, he composed music for a pre-war comedy Fredek uszczęśliwia świat (Fredek makes the world happy); he wrote symphonies, solo concertos, piano sonatas and cantatas. He also wrote music for operas and movies, both narrative and animated ones. Wajnberg is sometimes called a “triple-identity artist”; once forgotten, he is now being rediscovered and is becoming quite popular. You will be able to hear some of his music in this year’s WarszeMuzik festival.

Chłodna 20

Let us move to a different place: 20 Chłodna Street. Here, on the estate (mortgage number 770), in the years of 1819-1820 a small townhouse was built by Mr W. Kijok. The building’s gateway had a semicircular entrance. The ground floor was occupied by commercial premises, with large storefronts and wooden window shutters. Over the aforementioned gateway, at the height of the last storey, was a clock. The buildings also included brick annexes and old, wooden outhouses. Later on, right before the beginning of World War I (in the years of 1912-1923), the existing townhouse was replaced by a new one, which remains there to this day.

The building is six-storey 1 a legal entity in the Polish legal system from bygone centuries denoting a privately-owned tract of land within a larger municipality high, with additional annexes and had two closed-off yards. It had been designed by a well-known architecture company of two gentlemen: Mr J.N. Czerwiński and Mr W. Heppen. The townhouse has 6 axes and has a very particular, wavy coping stone on the façade, which gives a decorative air to the front building; the façade could be described as a melange of early modernism, Neo-Baroque and Neoclassicism. Another interesting feature of the design is a two-storey bossage of the socle supporting the upper part of the façade. The townhouse has been adorned with decorative moulding: ornaments, such as lesenes or medallions, give it an elegant, sophisticated look. On the axis of the façade is a clock, the face of which has been ornamented with stucco. Sadly, due to numerous damages from the time of the Warsaw Uprising, the highest storey of the building has been taken down after the war and the embellishments did not make a return after that. The townhouse’s foregate has been furnished with doorways to the stores, which were situated on both of its sides; today, those rooms function as commercial premises. The entrances were decorated with overdoor pediments and garlands. A heavy, triple-leaf door, half fitted with glass, opens to the first yard. In the middle of the gateway lies the entrance to the main staircase with five steps of gray, veined marble. The entrance is supported by two decorative columns. Inside, for a moment, one is under the impression of having entered a different world, but, sadly, the awe is replaced by disappointment once we find ourselves in the yard. The old, mossy walls do nothing for the townhouse in the matter of charm.

It should also be mentioned that the base of the front of the building, in its six-axes entirety, has been taken over by shops, and the gateway has moved over onto the fifth axis. The first floor windows on the outer axes, all of them closed off by a gentle arch, have balconies with stone banisters on modest corbels. The third and fourth axes bear a double balcony, the keystone of which is a garland-adorned medallion. A similar detail also decorates the robust corbels supporting the bay windows, which go all the way up from the second floor and which seem to be a trademark of the Heppen-Czerwiński duet. The architects have given them a vertical form, further enhanced by lesenes. Between the bay windows, there are two axes, similarly framed with lesenes and - on the fourth storey level - with small double columns. Right underneath those, on the first storey level, one can see a rather remarkable feature connecting the two bay windows - a sort of an hommage to the clock from the first townhouse built on the property; this one, however, has been installed into an ornamental frame of acanthus vines and garlands. A male mask is situated over the clock - perhaps in the character of an allegory of time. On the sides, at the bay windows’ base, are multiple statues, the meaning of which is rather tasking. Each of them depicts a couple of children in the nude; the first couple carrying a sculpted bust and a painting with a medallion, the second one holding a scythe and a rake; in the third couple, the standing child has a sort of a cloak on its shoulder, and in the fourth one (this one being completely reconstructed) one of the children is holding onto a paper scroll, while the other one is reading. It is possible that the statues reference different genres of art or, perhaps, the seasons; it isn’t quite clear.

Before the war, the front building contained a lift. The shaft was, however, eliminated later on, and bathrooms for the townhouse’s residents took its place. The townhouse at number 20 is sometimes called the “Townhouse under the Clock”; in the past, some nicknamed it “the White House”. The annexes of the building are no longer as impressive as they used to be. In 1939, the townhouse belonged to Zygmunt Lewy; during the war, the building ended up being within the walls of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Before the war, the commercial premises included:
-wholesale of soda, produced by SOL-VAX
-sale of oil products and chemicals St. Filipowski
-photography studio Foto-Hollywood, owned by Z. Wypustek

After the war, the ground floor contained a grocery store and a studio of a craftsman making shoe uppers. Before the war, the townhouse’s residents included Adam Czerniakow, head of Judenrat2, as well as Marian Kister, who used to live on the (now gone) fifth storey and who, in collaboration with Melchior Wańkowicz, created the Rój publishing house, known for such things as publishing The Career of Nicodemus Dyzma or discovering the author of Dziewczęta z Nowolipek (The Girls of Nowolipki). As a curious fact, we should also mention that the second yard still bears the old, metal encasing of the water well, decorated with a lion’s head; that very encasing has been qualified as a historical treasure and added to the register of historic monuments.

Pańska 100

Pańska Street was named in 1770, after the owner of the Bielino jurydyka1 in Warsaw, marshal Franciszek Bieliński (who besides that had properties in Otwock and Radzymin). The street also bore the name of “Nowa” and, later on, “Wspaniała”. As early as 1784, the street had four brick houses, 63 wooden houses, and a mill.

What we are interested in is the address of 100 Pańska Street: a townhouse previously owned by a private corporation called Własność (mortgage number 1237). The building was erected in the early 20th century, around 1910, its construction being financed by 22 shareholders (17 of whom belonged to the Warsaw-Vienna railway). The townhouse is currently inhabited. Inside, there is a wooden staircase, a fairly well-preserved parquet floor with Marywil tiles and tall, almost 4-metres high doorways; remarkably, there are still bullet holes in the outside walls. Unfortunately, the townhouse as a whole is in a horrid condition.

According to an old phonebook, this address once belonged to Beyer i S-ka - a company which used to sell art supplies, such as paints or painting tools. What is more important is that 100 Pańska Street was home to Wiesław Michnikowski - a remarkable Polish artist. Michnikowski was born here - in Mirów, 100 Pańska Street, on the 3rd of June 1922, and his family resided on the 3rd floor at number 37 up until the outbreak of the Warsaw Uprising. This celebrated stage and film actor, who also performed in various Warsaw cabarets, attended a nearby school: Sowiński Middle School at Rogalińska Street. In an extended interview Michnikowski reminisces about his days there and talks about how the students of the school had access to a small astronomical observatory and were permitted to grow plants and vegetables in the front yard.

Most of you are likely familiar with Mr Michnikowski thanks to his work in the Kabaret Starszych Panów (Old(er) Gentlemen Cabaret) and Dudek Cabaret or know him from such movies as Hello, Fred The Beard, Gangsterzy i cilantro (Gangsters and philanthropists), Sexmission and Four Tank- Men and a Dog. The younger generation will recognise the actor’s voice, as he dubbed the beloved Papa Smurf.

Waliców 12

Waliców Street is situated in Mirów. It has been officially named in 1770, after the properties of the contemporaneous voivode3 of Rawka Voivodeship - Bazyli Walicki. The Waliców family originated around XV century. Mr Walicki was a man of reform, a propagator of change: he owned the town of Mogielnica, where he founded a church, and made great contributions to Warsaw’s urban and constitutional development. He was also an avid supporter of Stanisław August Poniatowski, the last Polish king.

Waliców (formerly known as Walicowo) was a small settlement, set up in present day Wola, nearby a grange (the area of current day Chłodna Street, Żelazna Street, Grzybowska Street and Ciepła Street). Bazyli Walicki was granted a perpetual usufruct of the property in 1763; the land was subsequently divided into 30 smaller parcels, which have gotten their separate numbers in 1784, and later on became part of the city of Warsaw. Before the street’s townhouses were built, there had been a brickyard, several breweries, as well as the Urlich Gardens and quite a few manor houses.

12 Waliców Street (mortgage number 6754), now a townhouse, was previously a brewery, coowned by A. Rawicki and M. Pacholder. The brewery was known as Warszawska Słodownia, it employed 20 workers and had a share capital of 20 rubles. 2 a World War II administrative agency imposed by Nazi Germany on Jewish communities across occupied Europe 3 a governor of a voivodeship, a main administrative region Now, as to the townhouse itself: the building has been erected before World War I, probably somewhere between the years of 1912-1914. The square parcel houses a front townhouse with two side annexes, and a single transverse outbuilding.

12 Waliców Street is the address of a building in the middle of the street’s compact settlement, situated between two old buildings - remains of the Warsaw Ghetto. It, along with the numbers 10 and 14, is a living testimony of the city’s history, which thus remains in our hearts and minds. The building has been erected by a housing company, Spółka Budowy Domów "Mieszkanie własne” (House Building Company “Private lodging”), which was in fact a branch of a company of A. Ehrenberg, H. Zand, I. Koń, M. Jung and Ch. Zlotnicki in Warsaw. Up until the beginning of World World II, the townhouse changed owners frequently, with the last of the recorded proprietors being Hersz Aszkenejzer and Gitla Gruenberg. The front building is 6 storey high; its outer’s part axial layout varies depending on the storey. The gateway is situated on the first axis. Both the façade and the backside of the townhouse featured balconies, the orignal banisters of which have sadly been lost. There is also a small, one-storey annex adjoined to the building, which seems to function as a commercial premise.

Not much of the original design remains in the aforementioned gateway. There is an old, narrow, ornamental overdoor behind a metal grille; one can also notice an old board, containing the tenants’ list and decorated with a small rosette, on the right. Other than those, the gateway has no decorative  moulding of any kind. The backyard, modest in size, contains a typical pre-war water well and big, metal construction, supporting the buildings. Due to safety concerns, the townhouse’s inhabitants have long been relocated to other premises. However, when we visited this place, nearly a year ago, during one of the WarszeMuzik concerts, the yard itself didn’t pose any safety threats. The music of early classics sounded particularly beautiful in this place, with its one-of-a-kind atmosphere, thanks to masterful performers who participated in the concert. We encourage you to have a look at the photos of the building’s inside, now abandoned. The staircase still features wooden elements of its doors, windows, steps and platforms, as well as banisters. Close to the main entrance, one can admire fragments of the original floor tiles, played down in a black-and-white checkered pattern. Above the entrances to each apartment, there remain the original plaques with the flats’ numbers. The ceilings of the upper storeys of the staircase are supported by constructions made of railway tracks. In some of the rooms, old, metal sinks, tile stoves and kitchen cupboards still remain. Despite the fact that the building has been added to the register of historic monuments in June of 2018, its current state is terrible. Crumbling plaster, mossy stairs and omnipresent humidity - those are not good signs for its future. Numerous safety measures have been implemented at 12 Waliców Street, including reinforced ceilings on the upper storeys; still, the townhouse in its entirety is now almost dilapidated. Some of the old address tariffs mention the existence 4 of commercial premises on the property. Those included: a renovation company of Salomon Epsztein and a bakery named Piekarnia Rogoża W i S-ka. During World War II, in 1939, the building suffered some damages, and was later on included in the Warsaw Ghetto.

4 a list of former real estate tax rates including land and building records, introducing building and real estate numbers in Warsaw, created in 1784 and updated up until 1920 The townhouse’s backyard features an old, small chapel, probably built right after the relocation of the building’s Jewish inhabitants. We strongly recommend taking a walk there. Both the internal yard and the townhouse itself, now supported by metal rods, used to be an impressive sight for visitors; sadly, due to safety concerns, the yard is no longer open. 

Chłodna 41

The building in Mirów, on 41 Chłodna Street, has been erected by M. Gurewicz and, later on, sold to the company of Brunner Schneider and R. Ditmar, Towarzystwo Akcyjne Fabryki Lamp (Join Stock Company of Lamp Factory). The company was set up in 1879 and produced oil lamps, gas lamps, electric lights, burners, various stoves and ovens and aluminium and metal products.; it provided work for several hundreds of people. It was originally located in Wola, but was then relocated to Praga. The factory was located at number 43 Chłodna Street; other than that, the company had two shops: one at 6 Nowo-Jasna Street at one at 15 Trębacka Street. During World War I the company’s machines were taken away to Russia. In 1929, the company was purchased by a company called Metallamp; between World War I and World War II, when an economic crisis struck Polish market, it functioned as a small-size provider of work lamps for the police, the army and the railways.

Around the middle of the XIX century, a two-storey townhouse with a slanted roof and a gateway, situated on the fourth axis, was built at 43 Chłodna Street (mortgage number 919). In the second half of the century, two buildings were added on the other side of the parcel, at 56 Wrońska Street; it was a two-storey, triangular outbuilding and a factory hall. Nearby, at 41 Chłodna Street (mortgage number 920), the first half of the century (1912-1913) witnessed the construction of a townhouse of a very interesting design. Similarly to the building at 46 Strzelecka Street (previously 48 Strzelecka Street), the aforementioned townhouse was built for Mr Gurewicz. He was one of the factory’s directors, and, with time, became its sole distributor. The buildings at 41 Chłodna Street include a front building and two side annexes, with a single, half-open yard. The front townhouse was originally seven storey high. All of the ground-floor premises had a commercial or a service role; the gateway has been placed on the second axis. The ground floor, as well as the first floor, were decorated with a tile bossage. The upper storeys feature a remarkable decorative moulding, such as masks and garlands in the panels under the windows. The six-axial façade, an impressive composition, is adorned with bay windows at the second storey level; the windows have an exceptional, semi-circular top. The double bay window, situated on the third and fourth axis, supports two smaller three-sided bay windows, which originally had balconies on the outside. There was a cornice with a semi-circular top over the highest storey. The first and the sixth axis had the form of a mansard. The windows are also an interesting feature, as they have varying shapes.

In 1939, the property was owned by Sara Erlich. During World War II, the building was inside the Warsaw Ghetto, as is written on a memorial plaque on its wall. During the Warsaw Uprising, the townhouse was raided and burnt; it did, however, have fire-resistant ceilings and was thus qualified to be rebuilt by Biuro Odbudowy Stolicy (Office of Capital City Reconstruction). After the war the townhouse had one storey less, no peak, no attic, and no remains of the previous design of the façade.

There are, however, some souvenirs of the building’s past. The gateway still features the original, yellow tiling, made up of small squares. The staircase of the front building has retained its terazzotiles stairs with a wrought metal banister, as well as the old tiling of the staircase landings. The side annexes are rather plain: they have staircases with wooden stairs and banisters. Before the war, the townhouse’s ground floor housed a cafe called Cukiernia Udziałowa, a bike shop owned by Jan Kwapisz and the Przedświt sports club headquarters.