Museum building

With construction beginning in 1695, the building of the former Jesuit College was completed in 1740. Three walls of the College, the garth, and Saint Francis Xavier Church form a quadrangle building complex sited north-west of the town’s square. Located in the east wing, main gate leading to the garth gives access to the Museum. Former bishop’s palace adjoining west wing of the building is now home to nuns. The clergy live in a new home built opposite the church, on the grounds of a former cathedral, with original vicar’s house and the seminary building nearby.

Jesuits were first invited to Poland by bishop Stanisław Hozjusz in 1564. At first, having only a few members, the Society of Jesus planned to establish a limited number of centres in different parts of the country. However, they depended on generosity of the founders who financed their activities, usually in their home towns. First four Jesuits were brought to Krasnystaw by bishop Stanisław Święcicki. They lived in a vicar’s house and engaged in apostolic ministry in Krasnystaw cathedral.

Initially a branch of Lublin College, the Society of Jesus was officially installed in Krasnystaw in 1691. With the land purchased thanks to generous financial support of Feliks Potocki and Krystyna Potocka née Lubomirska, Marianna Gołuchowska née Liniewska, Anna Zamoyska née Gnińska and Teresa Zamoyska née Potocka construction of the college buildings began in 1693. Despite protesting elders of Chełm diocese as well as the Augustinian friars of Krasnystaw, the residence was officially founded on 5th January 1694. Legal and financial status of the Jesuits was formally settled by the bishop, thus allowing all building works to be continued. In 1695 two smaller facilities holding two rooms, a kitchen, and refectory were added to the existing structure. Eventually they were all joined by a common hall.

With the construction now legally and financially secured, new project could begin. A church adjoining the Jesuits’ home was slowly being erected. In 1704 both buildings were plundered and set ablaze by Swedish troops led by general Stenbock. With Saxon, Swedish and Muscovite armies stationing in Krasnystaw, the Jesuits found it difficult to complete the renovation. Eventually, in 1707, a huge fire destroyed the residence, chapel and the church roof, thus modifying the Jesuits’ plan.

The laying of the foundation stone in 1708 marked the start of construction works for the new premises, this time designed as stone structures. With a few hiccups during the first few years, in 1720 the building was upgraded to a College, allowing the Jesuits to operate higher education institutions. During following years they purchased the square located next to the College, and were eventually granted permission to make necessary changes and finish construction works.

The Society of Jesus in Krasnystaw was dissolved in 1773. The estate descended to the Commission of National Education but ultimately became the property of Chełm diocese. One of the buildings was occupied by the bishop, and is still informally called a bishop’s palace. Former College building was turned into home for the clergy. The remaining ones were used as school rooms.

During the 19th century the estate accommodated a military hospital, stables, and flats for army doctors. The army carried out necessary restoration works of the roof. The fire of 1902 damaged former library room and so the entire ceiling had to be replaced. Following the end of war, the College became the home for Polish army officers. The chapter house on the first floor of the west wing was adapted as a cinema. Occupied by Germans between 1939 and 1944, now state-owned estate served a number of public functions during the next decades. It was a home to Internal Affairs Office, a warehouse, and a music school. Despite lack of running water and sewage system parts of the building were converted into flats.

In 1983 and 1984 repairs were carried out to parts of the west wing. Polychrome-decorated ceiling was renovated, restoring the beauty of the refectory. With the building now empty of tenants, careful restoration works could begin. With the aim of restoring the west and south wings to their original design work began in 1995 and was completed in 1998.

A year later the Museum moved into the newly open west wing of the former Jesuit College and further restoration works were carried out. The building is currently owned by Krasnystaw Starosty and it houses three public institutions: Regional Museum, County Public Library, and Youth Recreational Centre.


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