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Conservation issues

The interest in the wooden architecture dates back to the end of the 19th century. In 1891 in Stockholm, Artur Hezaliusz started gathering wooden architecture sites. On the territory of the partitioned Poland the first person to take interest in the wooden architecture was B. Schmidt. In 1906 in Wdzydze Kiszewskie in Kaszuby region the first open-air museum was created. In 1912 a similar idea was the guiding principle for rescuing historic monuments of Eastern Prussia. At the beginning they were gathered in Królewiec, from where they were later transferred to Olsztynek. In 1927 a Kurpie open-air museum was opened in Nowogród Łomżyński.

In the post-war period many researchers took up not only the subject of the wooden architecture[1], but also its protection and maintenance. G. Ciołek was the author of the idea to create historic villages, i.e. in situ protection[2]. K. Estreicher considered difficulties related to the adaptation of wooden architecture to new functions[3]. A series of very interesting articles were published also by I. Tłoczek, presenting numerous remarks on rural architecture research[4]. W. Kalinowski also investigated the problem of adaptation and conservator's protection[5].

Signs of interest and documentation of the architecture in Nizina Sartowicko-Nowska date back to the end of the fifties. Individual sites were placed in catalogues and historic monuments registry cards[6]. Today a series of the most valuable sites have their conservation documentation; not only in Nizina but in the entire area of the middle and lower Vistula.

Unfortunately, today it is the only evidence of their conservation protection. The sites themselves, as well as rural areas, are subject practically to no protection.

Moreover this region does not benefit from values it possesses. This area is part of the Landscape Park of the Lower Vistula Valley. Besides covering the monuments with special protection, this area should use its assets to create recreational and tourist base.

For the entire area the conservation postulates should be elaborated, to be included in the local spatial development plan. This region should be divided into zones: rural settlements under the strict protection[7], terrains where partial intervention is admissible[8], and viewpoints where no large realisations can be carried out[9].

The original tracks, now being partly dirt roads, may be marked and used as cycle trails. The ruins of Protestant temples and their cemeteries should be exposed and have description boards. The information on the history of draining of this terrain could be placed in similar form on embankments, where viewpoints looking on the area of Nizina and the Vistula, with Old Town in Grudzi±dz, could be created. The old pumping station in Kończyce could be displayed as a monument of technology for museum purposes.

With regard to homesteads, the best solution would be to work out a model similar to the postulate of G. Ciołek concerning historic villages[10], creating an in situ protection model. To some extent such solution exists in the 18th century homestead in Chrystkowo, at present being the seat of the Landscape Park of the Lower Vistula Valley. Such form of protection, with preservation of private ownership, could be realised in the area of Nizina. The activity of ethnographic museum and that of the conservator's office should pervade each other. Of course entire settlements cannot be covered with protection, but their parts can be protected. The ideal place for such experiment could be the village of M±tawy, one of the best preserved. Some homesteads are no longer used, what would facilitate the task. In the best-preserved homesteads museum units should be created and part of them could be adapted as agritourist farms. This area is very popular, mainly among the tourists from Western Europe. They would willingly profit from the occasion to live in houses of their ancestors, and thus the homesteads would earn money for their maintenance.

Another possibility is to create a separate place on this terrain where the cottages could be transferred, while preserving the context of the place.

Of course these are only theoretical considerations on the possibilities to use the rural architecture. In practice some of the houses are in ruins and need an immediate intervention of conservation services and self-governments; a preventive protection of those sites would already be a satisfactory achievement.

At present there is no point where people visiting this area could stop and get to know its history[11]. Gmina's authorities should take over at least one farm and create a local museum there, with collection of elements dating from the times of ancient settlers.

A certain number of homesteads should be covered by a special conservator's protection, mainly the cottages of the highest value, i.e. Bratwin 38, 39, Dolna Grupa 12, 81, Dragacz 37, 58, 117, Górna Grupa 54, Krusze 3, 4, 6, M±tawy 28, 35, 52, 54, Michale 9, 65, 68, Nowe nad Wisł±- Rybaki settlement 9,10, ul, Wi¶lana 13, Osiek 2, 5, W±skie Piaski 68, Wielki Komórsk ul. Grudzi±dzka 17, 28 and ul. Nowska 16, Wielki Lubień 47, 48, Wielkie Zaj±czkowo 33.

In case of several homesteads we should try to revitalise the farm[12]. We know the layouts occurring in this area, in some cases we know where farm buildings were placed. The buildings should be encircled by wooden fences or hedges, and orchards close to the house and floral gardens near the road should be restored.

Rural spatial layouts also should be supervised, in order to prevent land use violations and deformation of the linear riverfront village. New houses should harmonise with the historic homesteads.

In order to elaborate a complex project of conservator's protection of the entire area, a study of brick developments should be carried out (following the same principles as the study of the wooden architecture) supported by ethnographic and environment research.

[1] G. Ciołek, Regionalizm w budownictwie...; I. Tłoczek, Dom mieszkalny...; idem, Chałupy...; idem, Polskie budownictwo...; W. Krassowski, Architektura drewniana...; M. Prokopek, W. Prokopek, Tradycyjne budownictwo... .
[2] In case of a village settlement possessing high cultural, artistic and landscape values, where the wooden construction is not endangered, we should attempt to create historic villages. In such places people inhabiting such cottages should return to old techniques and cultivations. Compare: Por. G. Ciołek, Zagadnienia ochrony budownictwa ludowego, "Ochrona Zabytków", 1952, no. 4, p. 227.
[3] Estreicher K., Przeniesienie zabytku budownictwa drewnianego z Komorowic, "Ochrona Zabytków" 1952, no. 1, p. 42-54.
[4] I. Tłoczek was the first to take notice of the social and economic issues of the village while realising a research on folk architecture. Compare: I. Tłoczek, W sprawie badań nad architektur± ludow±, Ochrona Zabytków", 1958, no. 1-2, p.19-35. Also: idem, Kierunki rozwoju budownictwa wiejskiego w Polsce. Zabudowa zagrody chłopskiej, "Kwartalnik Historii Kultury Materialnej", vol. XIV, 1966, no. 2, p. 253-263.
[5] He discusses with the G. Ciołek's theory on creating historic villages, i.e. in situ open-air museums, considering it as an interesting but inoperable form of protection. Among four possibilities of protection and conservation of wooden buildings he classified: leaving the sites in situ with maintenance of the hitherto user, leaving the sites in situ with change of the hitherto use, transferring the sites with maintenance of the hitherto use, transferring the sites or their parts to ethnographic museums or museums of folk construction.
Compare: W. Kalinowski, Problem ochrony i konserwacji budownictwa drewnianego w Polsce, "Ochrona Zabytków" 1964, no. 3, p. 3-11.
[6] In case of Nizina Sartowicko-Nowska, the oldest registry card, the so-called 'green card' dates from 1967. The catalogue of M. and E. G±siorowscy of 1974 contains the most interesting sites in this area, and the Ethnographic Museum in Toruń realised the photographical documentation till the end of the fifties of the 20th century. Compare: Zabytki architektur..., op. cit., p. 222-225, 229, 234; M±tawy 54, Historic Monuments of Architecture and Construction Registry Card 1974; Photograph of a house in Sartowice, ref. no. I 604 59.
[7] The area of strict protection should include the villages of M±tawy (possessing a great number of homesteads, unchanged rural layout and the only Mennonite church in this area), Wielki Lubień, Krusze, Osiek and Sartowice with manor complex.
[8] It should include partly modified rural areas, mainly along the Vistula, with the preserved riverfront village layout.
[9] Such points should give view on the Vistula from Rybaki and Sartowice settlements, a panorama of Nowe nad Wisł±, Grudzi±dz, Courbier's fortress, the layout of fields in the northern part of the plain, a view on the morainic plateau and the cloister in Górna Grupa.
[10] The only such possibility would be a very bad condition of the cottage, which could not be covered by the in situ protection.
[11] The lack of knowledge on the history of this area and the resulting lack of respect for the preserved monuments regards mainly the inhabitants themselves. In schools there should be lessons teaching about the history and culture of the Mennonites and other settlers that used to inhabit the plain.
[12] Such intervention could be undertaken in M±tawy 28, 52, Michale 65, W±skie Piaski 68, Wielki Lubień 47, Krusze 6, Osiek 5, Dolna Grupa 12, Dragacz 58, 117.

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