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Wilam Horzyca Theatre

Hermann Helmer, Ferdinand Fellner

alias Teatr Ziemi Pomorskiej (Pomeranian Theatre, 1934-1939, 1945-1949), Stadttheater Thorn (City Theatre Toruń, 1904-1920), Stadttheater (City Theatre, 1939-1945), Teatr Ziemi Pomorskiej Bydgoszcz-Toruń (Pomeranian Theatre Bydgoszcz-Toruń, 1949-1960), Teatry Dramatyczne Bydgoszczy i Torunia (Dramatic Theatres of Bydgoszcz and Toruń, 1960-1961), Teatr Miejski (City Theatre, 1922-1925, 1926-1932, 1945), Zjednoczone Teatry Pomorskie Bydgoszcz-Toruń-Grudziądz (United Pomeranian Theatres Bydgoszcz-Toruń-Grudziądz, 1925-1926), Teatr Polski (Polish Theatre, 1932-1934), Państwowy Teatr Narodowy (Government National Theatre, 1920-1922)
Historia del teatrosuplementodatos técnicosEquipamiento histórico

eventos importantes

(Detalle)30.9.1904 | opening
premiere: Ales die Preussen kamen by Otton Lindau and Wallensteins Lager (Wallenstein’s Camp)by Friedrich Schiller
(Detalle)1934 | rebuilding

Colour schame of interior changed from red and gold to silver

(Detalle)1942 | 2nd rebuilding
Liquidation of sculptures and stuccos in vestibule, foyer and auditorium, building boxes on the 1st floor
(Detalle)1995 | 3rd rebuilding
building the magazine and small stage
(Detalle)2005 | renovation of stuccos and auditorium floor

(Detalle)2006 | completion of extensive interior renovation


(Detalle)Hermann Helmer |arquitecto principal
The phenomenon of the architects Fellner and Helmer would be difficult to capture with only one building. Their work consisted of continual, although somewhat stereotypical, work in terms of style. They placed a great emphasis on achieving the technical-operational needs of theatre buildings. They created a large number of theatres (mainly national theatres) in Central Europe - Austria, Croatia, Romania, the Czech Republic, etc.Más teatros

Ferdinand Fellner |arquitecto principal
(Detalle)Ernst Herter |sculptor
He specialised in creating statues of mythological figures.

(Detalle)Józef Bergmann |otro
Architect, manager of the buildingMás teatros


Theatre tradition in Toruń, created in the middle ages, is neither long nor rich, but it does stretch back to the beginning of the 19th century. At that time, a room on the ground floor of Dwór Artusa [Artus Court], built between 1827 and 1829 along the southern frontage of the Old Town Market Square, was used for theatre performances and other public events.  Over time, due to the deteriorating technical state of the building (in 1866 part of it was even demolished) and its limited performance capabilities, the room failed to meet increasing aspirations of the local bourgeoisie.  From the mid-1860s, the question of building a new edifice designed especially for the purpose of theatre performances was a matter of great discussion.[1] Local architect Reinhard Übrick persisted in making proposals about this matter to the municipality for dozens of years. However, various important communal needs (such as erecting a new bridge or a railway station) or the political situation (the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871) stood in the way of implementing his idea. The situation did not change until the 1890s when the city council decided that the question of building a new theatre required an immediate solution. This encouraged Übrick to draw up sketches (in 1898, completed in 1901) whereby a building was to be erected next to Bydgoska Arch (nowadays Rapacki Square) in a neo-classical style with a column portico projecting from the façade. However, the architect was not lucky even then. At the proposal of councillor Otto Kriwes, the commission on building the Toruń theatre went to the well-known Viennese atelier of Ferdynand Fellner (1847-1916) and Hermann Helmer (1849-1919) to prepare a preliminary design for the theatre.[2]

For over forty years of intense and very fruitful activity (from 1870 when they started their collaboration to 1914 which put the end to it), these two architects designed and built as many as forty-eight theatres and concert halls, mainly in the territory of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and Germany, from Vienna and Augsburg, through Zurich, Graz and Hamburg, to Odessa.[3] In view of the enormous popularity that they enjoyed both among peers and potential clients (they were very flexible, they could design a building in every style, of specified size and for funds suitable for the customer’s abilities) their names appeared in the competition for the design of the new theatre in Kraków, already discussed in this paper. Moreover, they were seriously taken into consideration as potential designers of the new theatre in Lwów (beyond competition).

The design proposed by Fellner and Helmer assumed the construction of a theatre building for 809 spectators, richly decorated (with prevailing  Neo-Baroque and Art Nouveau elements) for the amount of 455,266 marks.[4] Art Nouveau dominated the most presentable part of the edifice: its façade. The leitmotif was a monumental arcade set with a semicircular arch over the main entrance to the theatre. Inside the arcade there were various window openings (small, square and rectangular in the lower part and a big one, whose shape resembled a kidney in the upper part). The arcade itself was flanked by bas-reliefs ornaments and giant double columns prolonged over the crowning cornice by two pylons with sculptures of eagles sitting on the top. Pilasters in the corners and between windows on the other storeys completed vertical partitions of the front elevation. They were contrasted with horizontal partitions in the form of strips of sgraffito plasters and rustication, alternatively used, encircling the whole building (on the lowest storey) and flat strips of pseudo sgraffito made in plasters, encircling the building on the other storeys. The whole building was dominated by a typically Baroque mansard roof covering the highest scenic area.

The agreement with Fellner and Helmer’s atelier was signed in June 1903 and the first earthworks on the theatre, which was finally to be built by Chełmińska Arch, not by Bydgoska Arch as formerly planned, started in July of that year. Already in November, after just four months of intensive construction works, the shell and core of the building had been completed. According to the requirements of the Prussian authorities in Berlin, many local building companies participated in construction works.[5] Since the finishing and technical works also proceeded exceptionally quickly, the ceremonial opening of the new Toruń theatre took place on 30 September 1904.  ‘Numerous Prussian administration officials and high ranking officers were there, along with members of the municipality and the city council, the German middle class elite, represented by prominent merchants, owners of factories and larger craft workshops, as well as teachers of comprehensive schools and headmasters of folk schools. Viennese architect Herman Helmer, on behalf of the atelier, handed over the theatre to the local authorities, represented by Dr George Kersten. A chauvinistic play, entitled Ales die Preussen kamen, written by Toruń physician, Dr Otton Lindau, especially for the opening of the theatre, proved unambiguously that the organisers wanted to impose a political character on the celebration. The action of this tendentious and anti-Polish play was based on events connected with the capture of Toruń by the Prussians at the time of the second partition of Poland’.[6]

The theatre was equipped with an iron stage, including an iron curtain, as well as electric equipment, central heating and a ventilation system. The last decorative elements were two sculptures by Ernst Herter, depicting Melpomene, a personification of tragedy, and Terpsichora, the muse of dance and singing, which were erected on plinths in front of the façade only in the summer of 1909.

The theatre building was renovated and modernized several times. In the interwar years (in 1934), the interior decoration and colour scheme were changed from the red-gold tone commonly used in theatre buildings, into pearly-silver but in 1956 the original colours of the interior were restored. Nowadays purple and gold are main colours in the theatre. During the Nazi Occupation (between 1941 and 1942) pylons with eagles in the façade were demolished, sculptures destroyed and windows reduced which deprived them of their Art Nouveau design but first of all the interior of the building were rebuilt.[7]

[1]Rich and interesting source materials, including records of the Toruń City and the archives of the Prussian Ministry of Internal Affairs luckily survived both world wars, as did invaluable in such situations information from the local press. Two basic studies were written on the basis of facts included there, by Bogusław Mansfeld and Kazimierz Wajda: Budowa teatru miejskiego w Toruniu, ‘Rocznik Toruński’, vol. 11, 1976, pp. 143-162 and Teatr w Toruniu, Warszawa-Poznań-Toruń 1978. The book by Joanna Kucharzewska, Architektura i urbanistyka Torunia w latach 1871-1920, Warszawa 2004, pp. 194-204, should not be omitted either. On the basis of this book the author prepared the paper Budynek Teatru Miejskiego w Toruniu w XIX i na początku XX wieku, presented at the scientific conference in Bydgoszcz. 

[2] Bogusław Mansfeld, Kazimierz Wajda, Budowa teatru miejskiego w Toruniu, op. cit., p. 146.

[3] Joanna Kucharzewska, Architektura i urbanistyka Torunia w latach 1871-1920,  op. cit., pp. 366-367, 370-371; see also: Hans Christian Hoffmann, Die Theaterbauten von Fellner und Helmer, München 1966.

[4] BogusławMansfeld, Kazimierz Wajda, Budowa teatru miejskiego w Toruniu, op. cit.,  158-159.

[5] Ibid., pp. 156-157.

[6]Ibid,  p. 161.

[7] Joanna Kucharzewska, Budynek Teatru Miejskiego w Toruniu w XIX i na początku XX wieku, op. cit., pp. 9-10.



  1. 50 lat sceny toruńskiej, Towarzystwo Miłośników Torunia.
  2. 60 lat Sceny Polskiej w Toruniu, editors: Maria Dworakowska, Zdzisław Wróbel, Toruńskie Towarzystwo Kultury, Toruń 1980.
  3. 80 lat Sceny Polskiej w Toruniu. Teatr im. Wilama Horzycy 1980-2000, editor: Beata Banasik, Teatr im. Wilama Horzycy, Toruń 2000.
  4. Beyond Everydayness. Theatre Arhcitecture in Central Europe, editor: Igor Kovacevic, National Theatre in Prague, Praga 2010.
  5. Kuchtówna Lidia, Wielkie Dni Małej Sceny. Wilam Horzyca w Teatrze Ziemi Pomorskiej w Toruniu 1945-1948, IS PAN, 1972.
  6. Kwaskowski Stanisław, Teatr w Toruniu 1920-1939, Wydawnictwo Morskie, Gdańsk-Bydgoszcz 1975.



Autor: Lechosław Lameński

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