Home | Introduction | Download e-book | Conference 2001 | Special thanks | The note of law | Contact
Articles: Poland | Małopolska | Mazowsze | Ziemia Łęczycka | Żuławy | Nizina Sartowicko-Nowska | Ziemia Kwidzyńska | Ziemia Walichnowska | Ziemia Sieradzka | Ziemia Wieluńska
Articles --> Conference 2001

Jerzy Domino

Elbląg branch of the Voivodeship Department of Historical Monument Protection, Olsztyn

Arcaded houses in Żuławy Elbląskie and Wysoczyzna Elbląska (short communication)

The subject of this article is a comparison between arcaded houses in Żuławy Elbląskie and those in Wysoczyzna (upland) Elbląska. The architectural examples come from three regions. The first includes the area located on the eastern bank of the Nogat, between the Stary Nogat, Drużno lake and Wysoczyzna including the villages on the southern and eastern side of Drużno lake. The second area is located between the Nogat and the Elbląg rivers (which was not included in the geographical region of Małe Żuławy) , including the current districts of Elbląg, Gronowo Elbląskie, Makusy, and partially Stare Pole. The final region is the area between the Vistula Lagoon and the historical border between Warmia and Ducal Prussia, including the districts of Elbląg, Milejewo, and Tolkmicko. The geographical dissimilarity of the neighboring regions and relative homogeneity of the residential architecture constitutes the basis for these remarks.

We do not discuss the functions and origins of the arcade and, in consequence, its impact on the shapes of buildings. Our subject is related to the basic form of the architectural structure, which originated from a combination of the building and its perpendicular extension of the same height. The extension was a closed space set on pillars, which formed a shaded open area on the bottom floor. The building type with a gable arcade was not included due to its rarity (Klecie) and ambiguous original form (Rozgart, Kamiennik Wlk).

A comparison of architectural forms of buildings with similar structures implicitly assumes the existence of specific differences between these forms. The diversity of types as well as technical or decorative nuances of buildings is one of the most important features that contribute to the externally perceived attractiveness of architecture. Exploring architectural forms is an attempt to identify what determines this diversity. Determination of the origin of the described building type requires further extensive studies. Theories claiming that it may have even originated from Prussian architecture or earlier settlement forms (the extent of occurrence seems to be one of the arguments supporting this proposition) or have resulted from the adoption of a room on pillars by later settlers in marshy areas as a useful modification, contrast with opinions that it was the outcome of the transformation of a typical Frisian , Lower Saxon, and Upper Saxon house. An alternative theory suggests that it resulted from the influence of the first tenement houses from nearby towns. According to iconographic sources, archaeological discoveries, and reconstructions based on these sources, these towns (Malbork, Pasłęk, and Elbląg) originally used to have arcades supported by wooden pillars, which stretched along the main streets and a central square. The pillars supported closed storage rooms of the upper floors of the tenement houses.

One should note that Żuławy Elbląskie (Małe Żuławy) and Wysoczyzna Elbląska were entirely or almost entirely within the former estates of the town of Elbląg (within the borders of the Republic of Poland). Additional examples of houses analyzed were located in areas adjacent to the Elbląg territory. Enclaves of Elbląg's lands were also situated in Ducal Prussia (vicinity of Rychliki and Jelonki) up until the partition of Poland . The vast majority of the arcaded houses included in the study were erected after 1772, when the administrative border between Wysoczyzna and Żuławy and former Ducal Prussia no longer existed. Houses with an arcaded extension were also common in the Ducal Prussia region. However, this vast region should be the subject of a separate study. Therefore, this short communication does not include arcaded houses from Jelonki, Kwietniewo, and Rychlik. Elbląg was the most important urban center in the area specified above. The existence of arcaded houses within the town limits, in its estates, and in planned designs by the town architects was confirmed by archival and iconographic sources and bear witness to the increasing popularity of this type of building at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries.

I noted above the geographic diversity of the areas where arcaded houses occurred - - lowland and polder Żuławy, forested hills, and the suburban areas of Elbląg itself. This diversity is associated with different soil types: silt soils in Wysoczyzna and black peat soils in Żuławy, which, in consequence, determined the character of the agricultural production. The Żuławy region was dominated by wheat monoculture and the husbandry of dairy cattle, which were pastured on considerable acreages of individual polders, while farmers of Wysoczyzna cultivated a variety of crops and raised various animals. The lowland farms were geared towards producing crops for sale, while farms on the upland were of two types: town estates that belonged to nobles (residence and agricultural production) and peasant villages with self-sufficient farms, which also manufactured linen yarn, wool, etc. Therefore, modern agricultural methods (farming machinery) were introduced earlier in Żuławy than in Wysoczyzna, where traditional agriculture was still common (wooden plough and three-field system). Furthermore, the sizes of average farms varied in these two regions. The regions also used different a measurement system (łan and hak).

Other dissimilarities included ethnicity, religion, and, in turn, customs . In Wysoczyzna, villages were being established on the areas colonized by the Prussians or were secondarily founded during the Teutonic Knight period (13th - 14th centuries). In contrast, in Żuławy, with the exception of several villages with Medieval origins (e.g. Tropy and Fiszewo), villages were founded in the 16th and 17th centuries, when Elbląg burghers introduced the Dutch colonists in order to develop marshes. However, in the 16th century, both of these regions were affected by the colonization. Żuławy was inhabited by a multi-religious population. In addition to Lutherans, the area was populated by the Mennonites (both sects), who lived in the vicinity of the Fiszewski estate of the St. Mikołaj parish, and by Catholics, who resided in Elbląg. Wysoczyzna was inhabited almost exclusively by the Lutherans and only Kamionek had a small Mennonite community, according to an old German toponym, mennonischen Hufenfrom, found on pre-war maps.

Contemporaries described different temperaments of the inhabitants of these two regions, juxtaposing hard-working, thrifty, and reserved residents of tidy Żuławy farms with peasants from the hills, who were very hospitable, but also inclined towards drunkenness, partying, and gluttony. Even their houses were built shoddily with only the front well taken care of. Even their dialects were different - Low and Upper German .

The vast majority of the identified examples of arcaded buildings date from the last quarter of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century (or were rebuilt at that time), that is, from the period with significant exodus of the Mennonite population from Żuławy. It is highly probable that the Mennonite population adopted certain farming methods and architectural forms in an earlier period. Therefore, it is hard to clearly determine which elements of residential design are of the Dutch provenance, which are of the German one, and which are local. Some elements may also have been adopted from urban designs.

Historians have not discovered first-hand iconographic sources that depict Żuławy's (Elgląg's) and Wysoczyzna's villages or materials that explicitly mention arcaded houses; however, according to iconographic materials related to villages located in Ducal Prussia (e.g. Wilczęta and Stare Kusy) and Wielkie Żuławy (e.g. Lichnowy, Myszewo) and considering the buildings that still existed after 1945, arcaded houses constituted a significant proportion of all residential buildings in the villages.

Currently, the exact number of arcaded houses is unknown. Their numbers varied because the buildings underwent natural processes of wear and tear; also, their external appearance, including the location of the arcade, depended on how the house was used and even on fashion. An arcade that was improperly constructed could have a negative impact on the structure of the main building . Therefore, it was often taken down, reduced in size, or replaced by a porch or veranda. In many cases its original function (e.g. a granary) became unnecessary due to erection of masonry outbuildings, which had large capacities and big lofts for storage. On the other hand, there were two other processes in progress: reconstruction of the arcades and replacement of the walls of the main building with the arcaded extension preserved (as is evident from analyses of the structure and details of the examined buildings). In the second half of the 19th century, intensive transformation of the village buildings began and wooden buildings were being replaced by brick. This process was more pronounced in the areas of former Ducal Prussia, Wysoczyzna, and especially Warmia (where no complete wooden homestead has survived) than in Żuławy. In Żuławy, modernization was generally limited to cowsheds. Of course, destroyed wooden houses were replaced by masonry ones. Markings on maps, Mastischblattach, from the early 20th century facilitate interpretation of the layout of individual farms, including locations of individual buildings and even their outlines, but the visible projections cannot be clearly interpreted as arcades.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the arcaded house was adopted as the signature design for the regional style of Prussia, as the mountain hut was adopted for the Polish Tatra region. Thus, official buildings were built in this style; for example, school buildings in Zwierzno, Sambrod, and Suchacz, an administrator's house in Markowo, houses of forest district workers in Zimnochy, and an administrator's house in Rangury.

The following comments are of a selective and preliminary character. They were prepared based on available archival or solely iconographic sources as well as on measurements. A great number of buildings no longer exist. Many additional buildings were considerably rebuilt and multiple changes in building numbering make their identification difficult. Modest iconography, poor quality photographs, and erroneous data in post-war documentation hinder the research to an even greater extent.

Based on the current documentation collected by the Conservation Services in Elbląg and available publications, there are 90 buildings that have been unquestionably identified as arcaded houses from Żuławy Elbląskie and Wysoczyzna . Unexpectedly, the number of buildings is nearly the same in both regions: 43 houses in Wysoczyzna and 42 in Żuławy. Additionally, there are 2 houses in Elbląg; and as if to confirm the equal distribution of the buildings, one of them is located in the lower, Żuławski section of the town, at Grochowski street, and the second one, called Neue Gutt, is in the hilly section, at Nowowiejska street. Only 43 buildings of the above collection have survived to the present; their distribution is also proportional, with 21 in Wysoczyzna and 22 in Żuławy.

Arcaded houses can be described from different perspectives. The age of a building is the basic distinguishing factor. Some buildings had an exact date in the form of an inscription on a header, lower spandrel beam in the front wall of an extension, or a flag (15 buildings from the18th century and 13 from the 19th century). The majority of the remaining buildings were dated approximately based on the style features. There are 2 buildings from the 17th century, 23 from the end of the 18th century, and 24 from the 19th century. Determining the age of others is difficult.

The spatial arrangement of the village depended on its rural planning requirements. Generally houses were erected along a north-south axis with slight deviations caused by landform features. In Dutch homesteads, the northern, cold wall was sheltered by outbuildings. As a rule, the arcade was located on the western side and less often on the eastern one. The position depended on the house location in a settlement. It should be noted that arcaded houses were owned by the wealthiest residents. If a building's ridge was parallel to a road or a street, the arcade faced it. Buildings in Zwierzno 51 and Raczki were exceptions: the arcades faced yards. Houses in Tropy were also unusual in that houses faced a canal, which constituted the communication axis of the village. In the case of dispersed villages and houses that faced the road with gables, the arcade was added on the yard side (in Węzino it is located on the garden side, similarly in Tropy 17). The location of the house in the homestead was associated with the location of the homestead in the village. In Żuławy, a variety of farm buildings, their types, and their location in relation to the house has been quite well researched . These patterns seem to partially co-occur in Wysoczyzna. The conducted analysis concerned the direct spatial relation between a home and farm buildings; therefore, the following description is specifically related to the spatial aspect of a homestead. Based on the available data, it was concluded that 40 houses had been erected as detached buildings, with equal numbers in Żuławy and Wysoczyzna. The numbers of houses in Dutch homesteads were also similar: 28 houses in homesteads with a longitudinal layout, 5 in homesteads with an angular layout, and 4 in homesteads with a cruciform layout. A house in Jasionna that no longer exists was situated in a homestead that encircled a yard. The remaining spatial layouts cannot be currently determined. According to Kerstan , homestead surroundings differed in these two regions. The homesteads in Żu
ławy were distinguished by flower gardens, which at the beginning of the 19th century did not occur in Wysoczyzna, where homesteads were surrounded by vegetable gardens and orchards. A farm in Wysoczyzna frequently included a fish pond. The custom of planting a row of linden trees was common in both regions.

The question of architectural form, including building material and structure, would require a much broader study. A brief description has been prepared for this short communication.

There are 54 buildings with a corner-notched structure (23 in Wysoczyzna), 21 brick buildings (15 in Wysoczyzna), and 3 with a tenon-post structure; the remaining buildings have not been identified. Masonry houses prevail in the villages of Wysoczyzna. The dynamic development of brickyards at the end of the 19th century could have had an impact on the rebuilding of wooden houses in Łęcz, Próchnik, Kamionek, Huta Żuławska and disturbed the balance of other house features. When analyzing the structure of the arcade, it was found that 4 extensions had a corner-notched structure and 75 had tenon-post, including 48 planked structures. In the remaining houses, the spaces between posts were filled with bricks; walls were plastered or left unplastered. In some cases, planking of a tenon-post structure could have been completed later; for example, in an extension of the house No. 8 in Kamiennik Wielki planks cover a rich ornamentation of Fachwerk and s-shaped beams. The number of pillars supporting the extension was an important distinguishing factor. Their number ranged from three (only 3 houses, 2 in Wysoczyzna) to eight. 21 extensions were supported by 4 pillars (with almost the same number of examples from both regions and Elbląg), 18 had 5 pillars (10 in Żuławy), and 27 had 6 pillars (17 in Wysoczyzna). A greater number of columns, 7 and 8, were found only in 6 Żuławski houses.

The examined buildings have a similar layout. In most houses, bays were of different sizes with the large room located in the south-west corner (a different location of the large rooms occurred sporadically) and the black kitchen in the large room's bay, which was related to the location of the chimney in the ridge axis. Houses with bays of similar widths are less common. In such houses, black kitchens were located in the middle of the bays. Differences occur in hallways, which were usually in two sections. The arcade hallway was connected to a narrower or wider corridor that ran perpendicularly to the side of the house that faced the yard. Houses with L-shaped hallways are less common and only one house has a C-shaped hallway. There are relatively few houses (6 identified) with hallways divided by a kitchen or doors. The interior had a row of rooms located on the farming side of the hallway - usually along the northern wall - that was separated from the hallway by a common wall with multiple doors. On the large room side, that is, generally on the western side, there was a living room for the parents and a row of 3 utility rooms. In attached buildings, central cupboards were separated by a brick tunnel that led to a cowshed. Determination of the original location of stairs that led to the attic requires more detailed investigation. No representative stairs have survived in the arcade hallway; however, they occur frequently in other Żuławy regions. They are hidden behind a plank partition or are located next to a narrow window at the door leading to a yard, next to the wall of a white kitchen in a separate space by the northern wall. This interior layout also occurs in the majority of brick and wooden houses without arcades. This layout is also present in large masonry houses in northern Warmia.

Based on the available measurement documentation (unfortunately, relatively few buildings were measured ), it can be concluded that although the smallest buildings were erected in Wysoczyzna and the largest, in Żuławy, the dimensions of the majority of medium size buildings were similar. For example, in Żuławy, the length of a ridge wall ranged from 8.6 to 9.6 m and from 10.6 to 12.2 m, while in Wysoczyzna, from 8.2 to 0.4 m and from 10.2 to 11.6 m. Therefore, we cannot unquestionably conclude that the size of buildings differed between the regions. The largest multi-storey buildings were erected in Stalewo, in Żuławy, and in Pasieki which is located in Wysoczyzna . The differences are more pronounced when analyzing the ratio of a house surface area to the area of the arcade. In Wysoczyzna, the ratio usually equals 1: 5, and less frequently, 1: 6. In Żuławy it usually equaled 1: 4, but also 1: 2.3, 1: 3.2, and less frequently, 1: 5. These proportions have a significant impact on the shape of a house. Some houses in both Żuławy and Wysoczyzna had very shallow or small arcades, for example Weklice, Rachowo, and Węgle. The location of the arcade within the structure of the house also had a considerable impact on its shape. Currently, for 40 buildings we cannot clearly establish the location of the arcade, which has been identified iconographically. In the remaining examples, 9 buildings had a symmetric (or nearly symmetric) location of the arcade, including only 2 in Wysoczyzna, 18 buildings had non-symmetric (11 in Wysoczyzna), and 21 had clearly asymmetric location.

The houses in the discussed areas were not as stunning as in the neighboring region of Wielkie Żuławy. Ornamentation of buildings was simple. It was limited to covering quoins with a board imitating Tuscan pilaster (rarely carved in a different form as in Wilków), with a straight spandrel beam in the arcade. The simple framework in houses from the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries was a reaction to the elaborate Fachwerk of the previous decades. Windows were mounted in simple profiled frames without pediments. Decorated doors occurred sporadically; this, however, might have been the result of post-war devastation. Angle braces used with structural pillars were straight or in the form of a sectioned arch. In three cases, the braces were decorated with a half-round molding. An 18-section brace was decorated with a triple molding (this version was the most common in Wysoczyzna - 14 identified examples) and in 15 arcades, the angle braces were cut into a Parthian arch (the examples are evenly distributed in both regions). In 5 buildings located in Żuławy and in one from Elbląg, the arcade was supported by Tuscan columns; in Pasieki, columns had Corinthian capitals and in Kępniewo, Ionian.

It is necessary to devote a few comments to builders of these houses. The region did not enjoy the presence of such a personality as Peter Loeven, but names of several builders are known from inscriptions: a carpenter whose initials, I. B., were found on houses 31 and 22 in Tropy , H. A. S. on a house in Kępniewo from 1776, Glandt Jacom on a house in Jegownik from 1795, and Georg Poeck in Stalewo. The village houses, including those with arcades, were built by village carpenters, master carpenters from towns, or even builders holding offices. Emanuel Friederici was the most active builder in the last quarter of the 18th century in Elbląg. He designed bridges, town houses, churches, factories, and warehouses. Furthermore, he carried out geodetic measurements and drew plans. In the Gdańsk archive, there is a design of an arcaded house signed by him . According to the plan, the building has a corner-notched structure with a partial-hipped roof, half-timbered gables, and an arcade located on the axis of the ridge elevation and supported by 3 pillars. Friederici also prepared an inventory (or a design) of an estate of the Elbląg hospital of the Św. Duch (Holy Spirit) in Nowe Kusy. The house of the estate administrator also is an arcaded house. Wooden tenon-post structures were frequently built by other Elbląg builders active in that period, for example, Hahn (cosignatory of Friedrici's design from 1806), Fricke, and Neufeld (builder of the inn in Raczki).

After 1945, despite the outstanding architectural and aesthetic qualities of these buildings and their detailed and artful craftwork, the arcaded houses were not appropriately valued and their devastation was treated with indifference. In many buildings, the arcade was disassembled. In the opinion of new inhabitants, the arcade was unnecessary, and, due to the inscription in German, suspicious. Furthermore, for the past 60 years, no open-air ethnographic museum has been established in the Elbląg region where these buildings could be exhibited in their original surroundings. It is quite probable that such a museum will not be established in the future. Several examples of buildings from Ducal Prussia were transferred to an open-air museum in Olsztynek, and some found their way to a similar museum in Wdzydze, where, devoid of their natural surroundings, they are used as an enclosed structure exhibit. Based on a comparison between records of historical monuments (green cards) from 1957-1965 (verification), documentation, and the so called white cards from the 1970s, it was concluded that the most serious devastation of the discussed historical monuments that survived WWII took place in the 1960s and 70s. The buildings did not survive despite being included in the register of historical monuments. This is an ongoing process; in 2000, the arcaded house in Szaleniec was finally disassembled. As a result of the financial situation of the country and the way in which the restoration is being financed, the fate of the existing arcaded buildings appears to be catastrophic. Some of these buildings are owned by farmers, who are particularly affected by the poor financial circumstances of the country (apart from other reasons). Only isolated examples of these buildings have been restored in the past 10 years, and these repairs have not been thorough. I am afraid that they will suffer the same fate as dozens of windmills, which, after 1945, were part of the characteristic landscape of the Elbląg region.

Home | Introduction | Download e-book | Conference 2001 | Special thanks | The note of law | Contact
Articles: Poland | Małopolska | Mazowsze | Ziemia Łęczycka | Żuławy | Nizina Sartowicko-Nowska | Ziemia Kwidzyńska | Ziemia Walichnowska | Ziemia Sieradzka | Ziemia Wieluńska

Copyright 2005 © jerzyszalygin@wp.pl