MARIA AND JERZY KUNCEWICZ HOUSE
A BRANCH OF THE NADWISLANSKIE MUSEUM IN KAZIMIERZ DOLNY
Historical brief of the seat
The house located at 19 Malachowski Street in Kazimierz Dolny is called “The Squirrel Residence” as squirrels have always lived in its spacious garden. Currently, a squirrel is the logo of our museum: a decoration in the form of that animal from the house’s iron balustrade has become our official graphic symbol.
The house was established in 1936 as a summer residence for the remarkable writer Maria Kuncewicz ( nominee for the Nobel Prize in literature), and her husband Jerzy, a barrister, writer and politician. The house was designed by Karol Sicinski, a well-known architect, whose works had a strong influence on pre-war and post-war style of Kazimierz Dolny.
One may say, that the history of this house is also a short and a significant lesson in the recent history of Poland. Both Mr. and Mrs. Kuncewicz came from patriotic families, strongly affected by the experience of the annexation of Poland, during which the country was divided between Prussia, Austria and Russia. Members of their families fought for freedom throughout decades. In 1918, after 123 years of captivity, Poland regained its independence and a great era began for both that country and the Kuncewicz family. Maria Kuncewicz became a well-known writer, her husband – a remarkable barrister – ran a successful law practice . Along with their son, Witold (1922 – 2009), they lived in Warsaw. When World War II broke out in September 1939, the Kuncewiczs went to their summer house in Kazimierz. After a few days they left for a long exile, together with a group of fugitives from the capital, who first sought shelter in “The Squirrel Residence.” Among the refugees were well-known writers and journalists such as Julian Tuwim, Antoni Slonimski, Kazimierz Wierzynski, Mieczysław Grydzewski and Stanislaw Balinski. Maria Kuncewicz did not want to leave Poland, her husband, however, convinced her of the immediate necessity of such measure. The barrister Kuncewicz, along with his family, would have been most probably persecuted for representing Polish Jews in several lawsuits in Berlin.
Through Romania, Yugoslavia and Italy the fugitives arrived in France in October 1939, and reached England in 1940. In 1955 they emigrated to the United States, where they lived in a difficult financial situation lasting 13 years, until Maria Kuncewicz became a professor at the University of Chicago.
By that time, the house in Kazimierz was requisitioned. From 1939 to 1944, it was taken over by German Nazis. During that time, the furniture was thoroughly destroyed. In the summer of 1944 it became the headquarters of Russian Red Army . After the end of the World War II, the building was used as a holiday residence for families of the members of the infamous Secret Police for the next 20 years.
The Kuncewiczs came back to Kazimierz in 1962 after a 20-year long exile. Although “The Squirrel Residence” did not become their permanent residence, they spent part of each year here, very involved in an active social life, always surrounded by extraordinary personalities , mostly artists. In the winter they went abroad , usually to Rome where they stayed in a pensione run by nuns.
After Jerzy Kuncewicz’s death in 1984, Maria Kuncewicz decided to move permanently to Kazimierz. She lived there for 5 years until her death on July 15th 1989.
From 1991 until 2005, the house was cared for by the Kuncewicz Fund, established by the Kuncewicz’s son, Witold, and was managed by Mr. Edward Balawejder. During that time it hosted a number of activities such as scientific sessions, literary meetings and artistic exhibitions. Many extraordinary authors, scientists and volunteers participated in those events.
In February 2005, Witold Kuncewicz sold the family residence to the Nadwislanskie Museum in Kazimierz Dolny.
9 responses to “INFORMATION IN ENGLISH”
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I hope you enjoy.
„Blog of the Year 2012”!!
Dear Friend, Thank you so much! I am deeply touched, suprised, happy and grateful to you. Now I am going to study Award Rules to implement it! My best regards. And first of all – congratulation to you for presenting YOU with the „Blog of the Year 2012” !
Thank you so much Wanda for visiting my blog and in making your lovely comments. Please have a lovely week. Ralph x 😀
Wow, I would love to visit the house one day. It must be great! 🙂
And I know it is the 13th of January, but I hope it is not too late to wish you a wonderful New Year. May 2013 bring you more happiness, love, and success. I would like to thank you because you continue following my blog. I hope my blog posts do not disappoint and that your visits in there have been a joyful ride. Thank you again, many blessings and much love to you. 🙂
Thank you, Subhan Zein. I am going to be permanent guest on your fascinating blog. Literature, in particular poetry, means so much to me. Best regards from Poland!
I always enjoy your posts, so I’ve nominated you for a blog award 🙂
🙂 😉 🙂 I am very happy, thank you! In 2-3 days I will set my own list of favorite bloggers.
I’m happy too! 🙂