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Memories | Tadeusz Szklarski

About my meetings and reflections related to Willa Lentz

My first memories go back to the 1970s when I attended several meetings held at the studios of the Youth Palace. Most of the names of the instructors have faded from memory. However, I still have images of them before my eyes, and in my heart, I am grateful for their support, encouragement and nurturing which allowed me to learn a great deal whilst there.

Let me start with my meeting with Mr Gabé. He was the hidden guiding light of the villa during the first session of the Westival – Art of Architecture in 2007. This seemingly invisible figure gave impetus to many events that were to become highly significant in the city's cultural calendar. However, during this event, it became apparent that the present city of Szczecin in terms of interesting architectural features was hardly noteworthy. It had been in the past, and potentially can be in the future, but at the moment the city appears to hardly exist. Therefore action had to be taken to awaken a greater interest in the city's architecture and urban planning, make its inhabitants sensitive to their immediate surroundings, show the advantages of known places, and bring into focus many unknown locations and show construction plans and future development prospects.

The villa turned out to be the perfect venue for meetings and spontaneously assembled presentations. Films about architecture turned out to be a binder, a didactic form that was still little known in Poland at this time. The organizers of the Westival were architects and artists; all of them today prides themselves on their outstanding creative achievements and academic titles.

Yet, this is not our story. Let us concentrate only on Mr Gabé, a descendant of August Lentz, and stay with his tale. His great-grandfather commissioned the design of the villa to a young German architect. The building was constructed and even today many art historians still speak of with admiration and as being worthy of the Alhambra. It is actually an energy generator that, when properly configured, can intellectually power the city and the entire Szczecin region, and through its classic form, contribute to the creation of a positive, vivid and coherent image of this city in the centre of Europe.

Therefore, it is not without reason that the villa was the institution's seat that represented the city in the competition for the European Capital of Culture title in 2016. It was here that initiatives to redefine the city were born, and a common cross-border space of culture was outlined. The chance to compete with other European cities will soon be repeated. Taking into account the experience gained, we can count on a successful outcome.

The building has stood since 1889 and several families have made their homes within, furthermore, it has been the seat of several institutions, it has its monograph and is immortalized in thousands of photographs. Its charm has recently been enriched by a thorough renovation ordered by the city authorities, heralding a new beginning in its history.

Gabé sometimes walks around the garden of the Lentz Villa; he can be found observing the building during different times of the day and at certain times of the year. In winter, he sleeps.

With kind regards,
Tadeusz Szklarski