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This document constitutes an attempt to analyse the wooden homestead architecture of Nizina Sartowicko-Nowska.

The attempts to develop this flood terrain were undertaken by the Mennonites, having arrived first to M±tawy in 1568 and then gradually colonising most of this terrain. The second wave of settlers, known as Olęders, came here in the 18th century. It was composed not only of the Mennonites but also of the Germans and the Poles.

Till the present day 67 wooden homesteads related to the Olęder colonisation have survived. Besides them, iconographic sources for 21 no longer existing houses were found, what gives an overview of 88 wooden cottages in Nizina Sartowicko-Nowska. Larger number of homesteads faced the road with their ridge, what confirms the thesis on large parcel dimensions. Nizina was characterised by rich farms. It was an indication of high status of peasants and of inheritance rights allowing keeping the property in hands of one family. In this area practically all types of homesteads described by O. Kloeppel were identified, except the house with an arcade extension in the gable wall.

The iconography of no longer existing buildings gives an overview of eighteen century homesteads. Their characteristic feature was the existence of the elders' rooms. Sometimes such function was played by storeys. This form has not survived to the present day.

Twenty seven homesteads are lined up with farm buildings (Langhof), two homesteads have a corner layout (Winkelhof), thirty six have a dispersed layout and one of them has an arcade extension. The identification of two sites is impossible due to their state.

On this territory joint cross-shaped homesteads existed (Kreutzhof), no longer seen today. Among detached houses, houses with an arcade extension were popular.

It was the preserved architectonic detail, supported by inscriptions with dates of construction of eight houses, which rendered the realisation of this classification possible. Together with the analysis of other elements of wooden architecture it allowed dating the majority of houses with the exactitude to a quarter of the century.

Homestead Krusze 6 seems to date from the 18th century, although this information has not been confirmed.

Only three homesteads dating from the first quarter of the 19th century have survived. They have a joint, lined-up layout (Langhof). The residential section is united with farm buildings in one structure. The entrance to the hallway is located closer to one corner of the ridge wall. They have very high roofs, due to which the loft could serve as a barn. The decoration of these buildings is very modest.

In the second quarter of the century eight homesteads were built and in the mid-19th century - eleven. The number of houses having joint and dispersed structure is equal. The richest belong to the Mennonites, what is an indicator of their high status (in the 19th century they are no longer a dominating nationality, but they still remain the richest). The architectonic detail acquires characteristics of the Classicistic architecture.

The economic revival that took place in the mid-century was caused, among others, by enfranchisement, introduction of railways and new cultivation techniques. From this period the largest number of twenty three houses has survived. The farm buildings are built mainly of brick and have larger dimensions. The details start drawing from different sources, not only Classicistic. Windows are divided by a window cross, shutters are divided into two panels, and porches at the entrance door appear.

Buildings erected after the seventies are practically only dispersed homesteads. Their form changes. They start to resemble more suburban houses than village cottages. Open-work, decorative architectonic detail seems to refer to the Swiss style. Also floral motives appear. Roofs become flatter, the pointing sill is introduced.

The change in the image of a homestead is probably due to the fact that free, rich peasants wanted to improve their social status and become equal to bourgeois.

Nizina is the farthest located area where the largest number of homesteads with an arcade extension occurred.

Among the known homesteads we managed to discover eight inscriptions with the master-builders' names. Baumeister Böhnke signed two homesteads with his name - M±tawy 28 and 54. The analysis of these sites indicated a series of similarities, and the artistry of the carpenter can be described as very good for this area's conditions. He was the first to introduce elements of the Classicistic architecture. Master-builder Becher, who in 1891 constructed the no longer existing house in Wielkie Stwolno 11, was a local carpenter. His name is known among the local community of the Mennonite religious group.

The present state of homesteads is generally good, although without the immediate help all this heritage may be destroyed. Thirty most valuable houses should be covered by a special care. In case of some homesteads we could try revitalisation of the farmyard. The terrain itself should be subject to conservator's protection. The best solution would be to leave the buildings in their original place as a private property, under a special conservator and museum maintenance. If such model is impossible, we should find a suitable place on the territory of Nizina and transfer the historic cottages there. The entire area should be divided into conservation zones (protection of the entire village layouts). In some cases we could reconstruct the historic homesteads, and new houses should harmonise with the historic development.

In the future we should focus more on the rural architecture conservation issues. The problem is difficult and burning, as those sites are not covered by any protection and the adaptation of village homesteads presents many difficulties. Also the issues of cultural landscapes or village layouts protection is a subject requiring exploration, not only at the stage of making conservation postulates but also in research methodology.

The subject of the wooden village architecture in Nizina Sartowicko-Nowska has been exhausted to a satisfactory degree, but we should prepare a similar analysis for the remaining areas where Olęder houses have survived. Also the classification of detail in other types of village architecture (with consideration of the Swiss style, inspiring the village architecture of the end of the 19th century) would be recommended. It would allow a full classification of houses, what could have interesting influence on the economic development of different areas and would supply more information about master-builders.

In order to fully elaborate the conservation postulates for the cultural landscape of Nizina Sartowicko-Nowska we should carry out a research on brick village architecture and support it with ethnographical and environmental research.

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