Retro-style recreation

In Minsk, people will soon be able to eat and dance in the estates of Wańkowicz, Moniuszko and Dunin-Marcinkiewicz
By Lyudmila Minakova

The investor, Univest-M Company, promises that, in October, visitors will see the estate with restored facades, recreated interiors, stylised furniture and fireplaces. The MT correspondent has learnt about those will be able to plunge into the 19th century atmosphere of the restored building, and how hard it was to recreate the Walenty Wańkowicz period.

The estate has an old and rich history. The complex appeared in the suburbs of Minsk, close to the Slepnaya River, in the 16th century. During the 17th century, the estate came into the possession of the Radziwill family, and by the early 19th century, it had passed on to the Wańkowicz family. Walenty Wańkowicz, the well-known Belarusian artist, spent his childhood here. A lot of the Belarusian intelligentsia, including Stanisław Moniuszko, Jonas Damelis, Edward Woyniłłowicz and Wincenty Dunin-Marcinkiewicz, visited this place. Musicians, artists, writers valued both the hospitality of the owners, and estates dйcor: the archive library, dining room with fireplaces and tiled furnaces, the rich halls and salons. The ballroom, with its magnificent pictures, bronze chandeliers, candelabra and oak panels was especially amazing. The house is located in a picturesque park with a large pond, dams and cascading waterfalls on the river.

However, over the course of time, the estate fell to disrepair. In 1981, the Woyniłłowicz estate became a historical and cultural monument of state protection, and quarter of a century ago, in 1988, it was further classified as monument of Republican value. However, by then, there was nothing to look at. During the reconstruction, which was carried out in the late 20th century, elements of the decorative interiors were completely lost, tiled furnaces and fireplaces were destroyed, the lay-out of the premises, changed. But a glimmer of hope appeared when, in 2009, an investor came along — the group of companies Univest-M.

Obviously, the private company is not going to place a kindergarten or other social service in the building. They need to earn money, especially after more than $10 million that have been already spent on the reconstruction of the building. Univest-M’s idea is a modern leisure complex in the estate, which, like during the times of Walenty Wańkowicz, will gather people for intellectual and creative communication. Concerts of chamber music, exhibitions, fashion shows and performances of actors will also be held here.

The many months of work by restorers and builders were not in vain. The estate looks fully revived. Facades are restored, the entrance is reconstructed, and the lay-out of premises is redone. On the first floor, it was possible to partially reconstruct the interiors of the ballroom and the large dining room in the style of 19th century. In the dining room it is possible to admire the magnificent, bespoke fireplace, made using Belarusian materials. An area of the surrounding parkland, just over a hectare, has also been partially restored.

The new owner of the estate wants to keep the spirit of the period and the ties to the earlier centuries. For example, in one of halls, the workers have uncovered the original brickwork.

Naturally, in addition to ancient features, modern ones will also appear. High-quality sound and light equipment, and professional visuals were installed in the estate. A summer veranda, capable of seating six hundred people, is equipped with climate control systems capable of changing the humidity and temperature. From here, patrons can admire the tremendous view of Slepnaya water system in comfort and luxury. A children’s playroom and playground are provided for the estate’s younger visitors.

There is no doubt that something unique will soon be appearing in the Belarusian capital. Glass high-rise and mirror buildings have made the residents of big cities a bit tired. They want something real, where it is possible to mentally relax. It looks like the estate of Wańkowicz will do just this.
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