Vul. Lesi Ukrainky, 12 – residential building
This three-story stone townhouse, which was built in the late seventeenth century, is an element of the former Armenian quarter in Lviv. The house is a part of the old Armenian vicar’s residence. Now this is an architectural and urban planning monument of national significance under protection number 1288. Restoration workshops were arranged in the house where the Mons Pius bank pawn shop had been located; the house facing Lesi Ukrainky street has remained residential.
The houses of this part of the Armenian quarter were for the first time shown in a plan drawn by Martin Gruneweg in the late sixteenth century or in the early seventeenth century. In the place of the contemporary house number 12 he designated a covered stoop with an opening (das offene) in the middle where probably an oven was situated. In the place of the modern yard, there was a wooden house where one could find a kitchen with a fireplace and a separate room situated more deeply inside. The next big brick building, which was located in the place of the contemporary western wing of the Mons Pius café bar, was the property of the same owner, a Mr Jacob. There was an overstory above it, apparently made of wood. Between the wooden and stone parts of the housing there were stairs leading down to the cellar.
When Wardan Hunanian, a priest, became the Armenian Catholic bishop in 1675, he claimed that the Magistrate should allot the plots situated to the north from the cathedral to the Church. So the territory, which now coincides with the houses number 10, 12, and 14 on Lesi Ukrainky street, passed into possession of the Armenian clergy. Stone buildings were constructed on these plots in the late seventeenth century. In the 1767 tax registry, the housing number 131, which coincides with the houses number 12 and 14, is designated as the Armenian vicar’s residence.
In a 1844 Lviv plan and a 1849 cadastral map, the house is designated as a separate one, not connected with the plot number 14. It is known that it was owned by Heinrich Schmidt in 1858. The contemporary appearance of the house with an interior yard fenced with a wall took its shape in the nineteenth century. The wall was built anew in 1884. At that time the house number 12, as well as the neighbouring ones, was registered as belonging to the chapter. In a 1932 plan the both buildings facing Virmensky lane (the second one was the contemporary western wing of the Mons Pius café bar) are designated as a single complex at the address of Skarbkivska (Lesi Ukrainky) street 12. All the housing, including the house number 14, had then the conscription number 108 and was the property of the Armenian Catholic Church. After the Second World War the both buildings passed to the possession of the city. Restoration workshops were arranged in the house where the Mons Pius bank pawn shop had been located; the house facing Lesi Ukrainky street has remained residential.
The townhouse is situated at the corner of Virmensky lane (unofficially given the name of Paradzhanova lane). This rectangular three-story house is built of brick and plastered; some wooden residential premises have been added from the south-west. The interior yard, which is common with the former pawn shop building, is fenced from the lane with a brick wall. The entrance to the house is made from the yard, in the central part of the southern façade. A narrow staircase is located in the south-western part of the volume; there are two sections of apartments with intercommunicating rooms on each floor. Downstairs, there is an entrance to a three-chamber basement.
The façades, the north one facing the street and the south one facing the yard, have four axes of windows each, located in recessions that are marked out with a darker color. The two-part windows are rectangular; wooden parts made in the nineteenth century have been preserved in some of them. The vertical rhythm in the façade compositional division is set by pilasters that are divided horizontally by bars at the level of the windowsills. The blind end wall is divided by solid bars extending along all the stories. A shaped cornice encircles the volume of the building. The exterior conciseness expresses the main style features of the building that are characteristic of the mid-nineteenth century. The late Biedermeier traits prevail in the architecture of the façades. The cut corner, which is an element of the late Baroque, is an evidence of a previous stage of construction.
Taking into account the volume and exterior appearance, the house number 12 appears to be an analogue of the house number 10 to which a third floor was added in 1873. The fact shows that the house number 12 was reconstructed and got its final appearance later. A Piller’s engraving, which was made in 1866, can serve as a confirmation of this; in it the house is shown as a two-story one with a mansard roof.
Vlodko (Volodymyr) Kostyrko
An artist, art critic, curator, art collector, and interior designer. Author of paintings, graphic art, collages, assemblages, installations, environments, and street art. Lives and works in Lviv.
Hunanian, Wartan (1644-1715) – an Armenian Catholic priest who was born in West Armenia and lived in Lviv from 1665; in 1675 he became the bishop of the Armenian diocese of Lviv and induced the Magistrate to extend the territory belonging to the Armenian Catholic Church.
Schmidt, Heinrich – the house owner.
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