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The historic August Lentz Villa is a fine example of the changing and fluctuating fortunes of many of Szczecin’s renowned bourgeois estates. From the splendour of a factory director’s residence, which is a testimony to the ostentation of it’s creator, through to a modern stylish salon, itself an important center housing a private collection, then on to the military headquarters once used by the German Wehrmacht and later by the Soviet Red Army. It also functioned temporarily as an administration seat for the Church, being designated as a potential site to house a Bishop. It later functioned as a “Youth Palace,” intended to educate young socialists. In practice it was a centre of much creative work and holds a sentimental place in the memories of many generations of the residents of Szczecin.
The District comes into being.
The modern history of today’s Pogodno begins on July 6th 1871, when the influential Szczecin entrepreneurs – Johann Quistorp, his son Martin and Heinrich C. Burmeister, August Horn and Ernst Petzold established the Joint Stock Construction Company under the name "Westend" (Gesellschaft Westend Stettin Bauverein auf Aktien) . The company aimed to parcel out and sell large areas of land in the area surrounding the Szczecin fortress, along the road towards Tanowo (German: Falkenwalder Straße). The company’s clients included many of the highest circle of Szczecin’s society such as merchants, business owners and other wealthy patrons. As a result, the end of the 19th century saw the former Friedrichshof estate being transformed into a prestigious residential district comprising of magnificent villas surrounded by extensive gardens. This new residential area took its name of the West End from the affluent western district of London of the same name, and of course from the fashion of the time that saw many new developments in other Western cities also adopting this name.

The nouveau riche's dream come true
One of the "Westend" clients was August Lentz (1830-1895), who wanted to build a residence for himself and his family matching and representing his hard-won social status. August Lentz was a man of success, a true "self-made man" who, thanks to his skills and diligence, had climbed the heights of the middle-class ladder of Szczecin. From a simple mechanic in AH Zander's plants, he had become a shareholder, director and the actual creator of the powerful Szczecin chamotte bricks Factory(Stettiner Chamotte Fabrik Aktien Gesellschaft vormals Didier). This lofty position and his material status allowed him to exchange his place of residence to a far more prestigious and imposing location. In 1890, together with his family (his wife and unmarried daughter Margaret), he moved from his official apartment in his factory in Pomerania to the newly built, magnificent villa in the West End.

The residence, designed by the young Leipzig educated architect, Max Drechsler (1857-1892), makes an immediate stunning impression. The facades finished with brick and decorated with stonework brings to mind the architecture of baroque palaces. The villa built in the Pompeian style of the "second empire" combines architectural features taken from many various famous European buildings. These references are a clear testimony to the awakened and growing aspirations of the owner.

August Lentz hired the most famous and reputable construction companies both locally and from Berlin, as well as artists and artisans, who created a unique architectural creation. At the same time as being an outstanding showcase of the position and wealth of their hosts, it also was an intimate space for family life.

Sadly, he was unable to enjoy the charms of his Szczecin residence for very long as he died suddenly on May 10, 1895, just five years after the villa of his dreams was ready to be lived in. In the meantime, he had been living in Berlin, developing his business on a global scale.

Art treasury
In February 1899, under the will of August Lentz, the villa became the property of his daughter Margarete Tegeder who was married to Georg Tegeder, aBerlin musician and rentier. However, as early as May 1899, the couple were living permanently in Berlin and so sold the villa on the Westend to a Szczecin merchant, Romanus Conrad. Yet they quickly regained their property after Conrad’s bankruptcy in 1906.

A new chapter in the history of the villa began in November 1911, when the property was purchased by Wilhelm Doering (1869-1935) – a grain merchant and owner of the Mercur AG cement plant in Jatznick near Greifswald. In 1912, he modernized the interior of the villa, furnished a modern bathroom, installed a central heating system and other technical innovations, including the installation of a central vacuum cleaner. Furthermore he ordered a treasury to be built in the basement of the villa. In addition to valuables, the secret room was probably also used to secure numerous works of art, which, thanks to Doering's passion for collecting, filled the interior of the villa. The Doering collection included paintings by German artists from the end of the 19th and the first quarter of the 20th century, sculptures and graphics. Thanks to his and his wife Frida nee Steckling’s generosity, in 1925 the most valuable paintings of many contemporary German avant-garde artists were added to the collection of the City Museum in Szczecin.

At the turn of history
In 1935, the widow Frieda Döring leased and then sold the villa to the city, which in turn rented it to the Nazi party, and then to the army. In December 1939, the management of the NSDAP district set up a concrete air-raid shelter in the basement. Then we saw the building being used by the Third Reconnaissance Aviation Regiment (Luftgau Nachrichtenregiment 3). Luckily the Lentz Villa survived the numerous Allied bombing raids on Szczecin unscathed.

On April 26, 1945, Szczecin was occupied by the Red Army, and the Polish flag flew on the former building of the regency at Chrobry Embankment for the first time on the 30th April, which was from then on occupied by the Polish authorities under the leadership of the government plenipotentiary and the city's first president, Piotr Zaremba. After a short period of uncertainty, on July 5, 1945, the city was officially incorporated into the Polish state. This signified the formal end of the German City of Stettin. Yet the villa still served as the headquarters of a military staff – this time the Soviet one.

In 1947, the villa at aleja Wojska Polskiego 84 was occupied by the Roman Catholic Church after the Soviet military had left the building and it became the seat of a pastoral center and the apostolic administration delegation in Gorzów Wielkopolski being earmarked to become the center of the future Szczecin diocese. The villa was to serve as the future bishop's palace. In the meantime, it was inhabited by catechists from Szczecin high schools – priests Karol Rusek and Julian Janas.

Youth Palace
By the turn of 1949 and 1950, the building had been vacated by the priests and the state handed it over to the Society of the Friends of Children who were to open the Youth Palace located here after renovation and intended to be "an institution of upbringing and extracurricular education". The ceremonial opening of the palace took place on November 7, 1950, on the anniversary of the October Revolution. Despite the ever present indoctrination of that time, the Youth Palace remained in the memory of many Szczeciners as a place where they could develop their talents. The former Lentz Villa (now Pavilion I of the palace) housed numerous studios, usually with an artistic profile. Later, the villa became a setting for various artistic activities not directly related to the activities of the Youth Palace.

New beginning
2008 brought about the end of the Youth Palace’s activities within the walls of the Villa Lentz. This saw the growing realization of the monument's enormous potential as a result of the conscious awakening of Szczecin's cultural aspirations. The "Baltic Port of Culture", which was intended to lead the villa to the broader waters of international cultural cooperation, was moored here for a short time. Later, an institution, based within the walls of the villa, called "Szczecin 2016" began preparing the city's application to be the European Capital of Culture.

However, it was only the years 2018-2019 which saw any real development in terms of the monument.At a cost of over 20 million zlotys, the City of Szczecin carried out a comprehensive renovation of the building and the villa's garden. Not only did the renovation involve the modernization of the facility, but also the adaptation of its interiors for a wide range of cultural activities. The most outstanding aspect of the development was the careful conservation and restoration of the authentic atmosphere of the factory residence from the second half of the nineteenth century.

On January 1, 2021, a new chapter began in the history of the Lentz Villa with a new cultural institution being established within which aims to create an inspiring and creative interpretation of the history and heritage of a place that is unique to both the old and contemporary bourgeois culture of Szczecin.

Prepared by: Michał Dębowski – Municipal Conservation Officer