“Protecting the roof against winter and drying the structure and parquet floors is the beginning of a long list of tasks to save as much of the original substance of the monument as possible,” says the National Heritage Institute after the fire. Losses are being estimated after the fire in the historic villa Doctor’s House in Zakopane, which once housed the Museum of Contemporary Art. It cannot be ruled out that it was arson.
A fire broke out in the historic villa Doctor’s House in Zakopane on Tuesday (October 31) at night. A fire in a wooden building from 1898, whose construction is associated with Stanisław Witkiewicz, caused significant damage. Part of the attic and staircase burned down. However, most of the works of art and memorabilia of the family that owns the building were saved by firefighters and other people who came to help. The objects – including Witkacy’s pastels – found shelter in the warehouses of the Tatra Museum, where they will be subjected to conservation.
“The following days reveal the enormity of the destruction. Everyone is helping, an online collection is underway to protect the building against winter, firefighters secured the roof, and employees of the Tatra Museum are busy saving historic items, works of art and family souvenirs that were inside,” the Museum announced on social media Tatrzańskie, to whose warehouses valuable souvenirs were transported. The monuments will be dried and secured there.
“There is no indication that the facility could not be saved”
On the ground floor of the gallery, works by contemporary artists are exhibited. “The historical part of the Gallery is the Home Museum, where family memorabilia and documents related to the history of four generations of the Kraszewski family, as well as medical tools from the times of Dr. Kraszewski, are collected,” we read in the note from the Zakopane city hall. Doctor Wacław Kraszewski, a distinguished doctor for Zakopane and one of the founders of the Tatra Volunteer Emergency Service, was the first owner of the building. The gallery was established in 1993 by his granddaughter, Magdalena Kraszewska.
As the National Heritage Institute (NID) announced in a press release, work has begun to secure and renovate the 19th-century villa. “The first actions are ready to be implemented as soon as the work on site is completed by the relevant services, including the police, the prosecutor’s office and construction supervision. The fire brigade has temporarily secured the roof, but everyone is still facing a fight against time,” we read in the statement.
However, securing the roof is, as NID employees point out, “the beginning of a long list of tasks to save as much of the original substance of the monument as possible.” “We saved everything we could. Students’ art works, Zakopane-style furniture by Wojciech Brzega and pastels by Witkacy,” we read in the statement. Representatives of the institute reassure us: “there is no indication that the facility could not be saved and would have to be demolished.” However, it will be necessary to rebuild the second floor.
Police about a fire in the Dom Doktora villa
Director of the NID, Ph.D. Katarzyna Zalasińska started a private online collection to save the historic villa. As she explained, the entire money collected will be transferred to Magdalena Kraszewska, the caretaker of the facility, “who was at home at the time of the fire and alerted the services herself that it was probably arson.”
The Zakopane police are investigating the causes of the villa fire. So far, it has not been confirmed that arson occurred.
– We take into account various versions of the causes and circumstances of the fire. We will carefully check secured monitoring. The findings of the fire expert will be crucial, said Roman Wieczorek, spokesman for the Zakopane police, on Thursday. The police have not yet received information about the financial value of material losses.
Main photo source: PAP/Grzegorz Momot