The characteristic building at 14 Warszawska Street, in the heart of the historic district of Białystok, became the seat of the Law Firm Bieluk i Partnerzy in 2016. From the beginning of the 19th century, the tenement house, significantly contributing to the history of Białystok, functioned as a place where the most important banking institutions in the city were located.
Records and historical documents relating to the property date back to the 18th century. At that time, the lot belonged to Wojciech Kordyński, a hunter from Białystok. The Russian partitioning authorities bought it in 1833 and they built the seat of the State Circuit Fund [Państwowa Kasa Obwodowa] at number 14. Ten years later, due to the liquidation of the Białystok Circuit, it was renamed the District Circuit Fund [Powiatowa Kasa Obwodowa].
At the end of the 19th century, the building that housed the Fund was replaced with a three-story, representative tenement house with a brick facade. At that time, it was one of the most impressive examples of Neo-Renaissance architecture in Bialystok. No wonder then that it was chosen as the seat of a branch of the State Bank of Russia – the largest financial institution in the city. There was also a clearing chamber at the bank, which made this place the financial center of Białystok. Interestingly, a house with company apartments was erected behind the bank building, surrounded by a large garden. In the future, Stefan Jakubowski will live in it and he will play a significant role in the history of the tenement house. Meanwhile, the course of events caused the Bank to evacuate to Russia in 1915.
The further fate of the building was still related to banking. After World War I and the Polish-Bolshevik war in 1920, the building and the plot of land were taken over by the Bank of Poland. The aforementioned Stefan Jakubowski was employed there as a commercial proxy. His fate will be connected with this place for many years to come.
In the 1930s, the tenement house was completely rebuilt into the modernist style, which dominated and was popular in public architecture then. The façade of the building, previously made of brick and maintained in the Russian style, was replaced with simple, minimalist plaster and stripped of unnecessary decorations.
In September 1939, the Bank was evacuated. Proxy Jakubowski tried to transport bank deposits to Lithuania, unfortunately the operation ended in a fiasco. The cruel times of World War II left their mark also in this area. The edifice of the building at Warszawska 14 was completely destroyed while the Germans were withdrawing from Białystok. Only the bank’s solidly armored treasury remained untouched. Today, this chamber houses a modern conference room.
The tenement house would not have been rebuilt if not for the post-war initiative of the former employee. Proxy Stefan Jakubowski together with the bank’s pre-war associates undertook to clear the rubble away from the former company’s seat. His commitment and dedication were noticed by the authorities and he was appointed the director of the branch of the National Bank of Poland in Białystok, which was located in the building rebuilt in 1950 at Warszawska 14.
Over the next decades, the building became the seat of commercial banks, and on December 15, 1982, it was entered in the register of monuments, as an example of modernist architecture from the turn of the 1920s.
It was vacant for a short while, but the vacancy was happily interrupted by the decision of the partners of Kancelaria Radców Prawnych Bieluk i Partnerzy to buy the tenement house. Thanks to their decision, Warszawska 14 is teeming with life again, and its traditional function has been preserved.
Warszawska – history of a street in Białystok
The beginnings of Warszawska Street date back to the 18th century. Jan Klemens Branicki began to settle servants and craftsmen working for his court in this part of his estate. At that time it was called Bojarska Street and it did not resemble the present one in any way. The buildings were dominated by single-story wooden houses and farmsteads.
Although the street has changed its name quite often in line with historical influences, originally it was the main route to Warsaw. It was only in 1825 that the road from Białystok to the capital changed its course to the west, through the Narew river in Żółtaki, thus bypassing the former route of the Warszawska Street.
The mid-nineteenth century was the time of the heyday of the street, then known as Aleksandrowa Street. The city residences and public buildings that were built along it shaped its new character, giving it solemnity and splendor.
The current name – Warszawska – was used for the first time in 1919, referring to the historical route. The year 1934 brought another change – to Bolesława Pierackiego Street, so that after six years it could be renamed, in accordance with the prevailing doctrine, to Czerwonej Armii [The Red Army] Street. War perturbations meant that in 1941 the historical name returned, but in a German edition – Warschauer Strasse.
Today’s Warszawska can be proud of the best-preserved 19th-century urban architecture complex in Białystok. The seats of companies and institutions located here successively restore its former splendor.