Competition for the Stanisław Kostka Catholic Church in Łódź and the related polemics. “Our own” against “the others”

Krzysztof Stefański

University of Lodz


The competition in 1898 for the Stanisław Kostka Catholic Church in Łódź (today the Cathedral Basilica) was exceptional in many ways. It was the first international competition in this city and one of the biggest – in terms of the number of designs sent – on Polish lands since the start of World War I. For Łódź and its Catholic community it was very important, and the way it was conducted was precisely reported by the local press. The first prize went to the work submitted by the Łódź construction-architecture company “Wende & Zarske”, the second prize went to I.A. Rüppel “Franz Langenberg Nachfolger” from Bonn, and the third went to the company of Stanisław Jan Cichorski and Edgar Vinson from Paris. The winning paper was sharply attacked by the chief editor of the Łódź daily Rozwój – Wiktor Czajewski, who promoted the proposition by Cichorski and Vinson. One of the arguments against the winning design was the fact that the actual author was an architect from Berlin, Emil Zillmann. Despite that fact, the concept of the company “Wende and Zarske” was (with amendments) executed between 1901–1912 (with the topping of the tower according to a design by Józef Kaban, 1927).

Keywords: architectural competition, Polish sacred architecture, 19th century, 20th century, Łódź


The competition from 1898 for the Stanislaw Kostka Catholic Church in Łódź (today’s Archcathedral Basilica) was exceptional for many reasons. It was the first international competition in this city and one of the biggest in Poland since the start of World War I in terms of the number of designs sent.[1] Several dozen designs were submitted, most of which were sent from abroad – such a situation is unprecedented in the history of Polish Architecture. Despite all this, the competition was largely unnoticed outside Łódź and had no influence on the development of Polish sacred architecture. Moreover, it was entirely boycotted by the Warsaw architectural circle. For Łódź itself and its Catholic community it had great importance and the process was closely followed by the local press.

            Trying to, at least partially, explain this untypical situation, one needs to elucidate on the organizational circumstances of this competition. Łódź at the end of the 19th century was a vibrantly developing industrial centre, in fact, the biggest one in Poland, with a population in excess of 300 thousand. The religious composition of the inhabitants of this city was exceptional – in 1897, 48% from the 314 thousand inhabitants were Catholics, 32% were Jews, 18% evangelicals and 2% were orthodox.[2] In the life of the city the rich bourgeoisie with German roots dominated, mostly evangelicals, as well as the less numerous Jewish bourgeoisie. Catholics, although most numerous, were the economically weakest group and the least influential – they were mainly composed of Polish factory workers, and a small group of intellectuals and several families with manufacturing businesses including, among the most prominent ones, the Heinzls.[3] Such a social composition had a visible influence on the situation revolving around the world of art – the Łódź artistic environment was dominated by architects and constructors related to the German and Jewish communities, while local factory owners often ordered designs for their buildings and interior decorations from German professionals from Berlin, Breslau or Vienna.[4]

At the end of the 19th century, Catholics had only three temples, including one that was just a small wooden church. Already at the beginning of the 1890s, Ludwik Dąbrowski, the parish priest of the parish of the Elevation of the Holy Cross, came up with the idea of building a fourth Catholic Church in Łódź. It became a very immediate necessity when the number of the Catholic population in the city reached 100 thousand and the lack of a church seemed palpable especially in the southern part of the city. For the first several years the matter did not move forward. The situation changed in 1895 with the death of Juliusz Heinzl baron von Hohenfels – the richest industrialist of Catholic denomination. The family of the deceased decided to commemorate his death by funding the temple. A committee was set up for the construction of the “fourth Catholic church in Łódź” (this is what the facility was named in the initial phase) headed by the son of Juliusz Heinzl.[5] In 1897 a vast square was obtained from city authorities for the construction, which was called “Fabryczny”, later “Szpitalny” named after the St Alexander hospital situated nearby. The square was located near the southern section of Piotrkowska street.[6] The location suited the ideas of the initiators of the new investment, who planned to build the biggest church in the city, emphasizing the importance of the Catholic and Polish community. The construction committee had big ambitions and in May 1898 it was decided to start an international competition for the design of the new building. Famous Łódź architect Gustaw Landau-Gutenteger[7] was asked to help in the preparation of the competition’s regulations.

[1]M. Rudowska, Warszawskie konkursy architektoniczne w latach 1864–1898, “Polska Akademia Nauk. Studia i materiały do teorii i historii architektury i urbanistyki”, vol. X, Warszawa 1972.

[2] J. Janczak, Ludność Łodzi przemysłowej 1820–1914, “Acta Universitatis Lodziensis. Folia Historica” 11, 1982, p. 109.

[3] S. Pytlas, Łódzka burżuazja przemysłowa w latach 1864–1914, Łódź 1994.

[4] K. Stefański, Berliner Architektur in Lodz zu Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts, “Architectura. Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Baukunst/Journal of the History of Architecture”, Bd. 21, 2/1991, pp. 164–176; idem, Łódź około roku 1900 – między Berlinem a Wiedniem, in: Sztuka około 1900 w Europie Środkowej. Centra i prowincje artystyczne. Materiały międzynarodowej konferencji zorganizowanej w dniach 20–24 października 1994, eds. P. Krakowski, J. Purchla, Kraków 1997, pp. 101–110.

[5] Ks. T. Graliński, Kościół katedralny św. Stanisława Kostki (I), “Wiadomości Diecezjalne Łódzkie”, 1948, no. 12, pp. 309–316; Z. Wieczorek, Kościół katedralny p. wezw. św. Stanisława Kostki w Łodzi, “Nasza Przeszłość” 64, 1985, pp. 58–60; K. Stefański, Architektura sakralna Łodzi w okresie przemysłowego rozwoju miasta 1821–1914, Łódź 1995, pp. 86–87; idem, Bazylika archikatedralna w Łodzi pw. św. Stanisława Kostki, Łódź 1996, p. 9.

[6] Archiwum Państwowe w Łodzi, Akta miasta Łodzi 1794–1939, sign. 4518.

[7] Archiwum Archidiecezjalne w Łodzi (hereinafter as: AAŁ), Akta Dekanatu Łódź (hereinafter as: ADŁ), sign. 96, p. 12.

[8] Ł. Grzejszczak, Wiktor Czajewski – literacka legenda Łodzi. Między zasługą a zapomnieniem, w: Sztuka w Łodzi 2, Łódź 2003, pp. 193–202.

[9] X. A. [Rev. Antoni] Brykczyński, W sprawie budowy nowego kościoła w Łodzi, “Goniec Łódzki” I, 1898, no. 74, p. 1.

[10] M. Brykczyńska, Brykczyński Antoni (1843–1913), in: Polski Słownik Biograficzny, vol. III, Kraków 1937, pp. 27–28; cf. K. Stefański, Polska architektura sakralna w poszukiwaniu stylu narodowego, Łódź 2000, p. 53.

[11] Brykczyński 1898 (fn. 9).

[12] Warunki konkursu, “Goniec Łódzki” I, 1898, no. 82 (24 May), p. 3.

[13] Information about the competition was included in “Czasopismo Towarzystwa Technicznego Krakowskiego” XII, 1898, no. 6, pp. 61–62, Lviv’s “Czasopismo Techniczne” XVI, 1898, no. 12, p. 179 and German “Deutsche Bauzeitung” XXXII, 1898, Heft 46, p. 292. There was no information in the Warsaw Przegląd Techniczny, which was probably reflected in the absence of the representatives of this area in the competition.

[14] AAŁ, ADŁ, sign. 96, p. 63 (program in Polish) and 64–65 (program in German language); cf. Wieczorek 1985 (fn. 5), pp. 83–85 (Annex); Stefański 1995 (fn. 5), pp. 162–164 (Annex 6).

[15] AAŁ, ADŁ, sign. 96, p. 67. These requests were sent by many famous Polish artists, including Kazimierz Mokłowski from Lviv, Józef Pomianowski from Będzin, Hugo Kudera from Zawiercie, Bronisław Muklanowicz from Warsaw, Stanisław Noakowski from Saint Petersburg, Mikołaj Tołwiński from Odessa, Franciszek Mączyński from Kraków, Tomasz Pajzderski from Charlottenburg and Karol Jankowski, studying at that time in Riga. None of these, however, submitted a design to the competition.

[16] X. A. Brykczyński, Kilka słów z powodu, Programu konkursu…, “Goniec Łódzki” I, 1898, no. 97, p. 1.

[17] X. Z. [Rev. Zygmunt] Łubieński, W sprawie konkursu, “Goniec Łódzki” I, 1898, no. 98, p. 1.

[18] Kronika. Konkurs na kościół, “Rozwój”, 1898, no. 238, p. 3.

[19] AAŁ, ADŁ, sygn. 98, pp. 8–12; Z ostatniej chwili. Nowy kościół, “Goniec Łódzki” I, 1898, no. 221, p. 3; Kronika. Nowy kościół, “Rozwój”, 1898, no. 251, p. 3.

[20] Kronika. Konkurs na kościół, “Rozwój”, 1898, no. 265, p. 2; Die Conkurrenzpläne für den Bau der vierten katholischen Kirche, “Lodzer Zeitung” 35, 1898, no. 268, p. 4.

[21] AAŁ, ADŁ, sign. 98, pp. 13–14. The report provides different versions regarding the number of submitted works: Rev. T. Graliński (Spis parafii i kościołów diecezji łódzkiej i krótki ich opis historyczny, “Wiadomości Diecezjalne Łódzkie” XXVI, 1952, no. 10–11, p. 296) writes about 31, Rudowska 1972 (fn. 1), p. 38, writes about “many works”.

[22] AAŁ, ADŁ, sign. 96, pp. 413–421; Kronika. Konkurs na kościół, “Rozwój”, 1898, no. 266, p. 3; Kronika łódzka, “Goniec Łódzki” I, 1898, no. 239, p. 3; Tageschronik, “Lodzer Tageblatt” 8, 1898, no. 261, p. 3; Zum Bau der vierten katholischen Kirche in Lodz, “Lodzer Zeitung” 35, 1898, no. 270, p. 3.

[23] AAŁ, ADŁ, sign. 96; Rev. T. Graliński (Kościół katedralny św. Stanisława Kostki (II), “Wiadomości Diecezjalne Łódzkie” XXIII, 1949, no. 1, p. 12) mentions 30 designs authored by 29 architects; his list does not fully overlap with the numbers uncovered by the author hereof.

[24] AAŁ, ADŁ, sign. 96, p. 312 – letter of L. Schneider to the construction committee dated 28 Dec. 1898 with the request for return of the sent plans; for more about Schneider see: D. Głazek, Ludwig Schneider – architect of the churches, in: Architektura Wrocławia – Świątynia, Wrocław 1997, pp. 263–274; eadem, Domus celeberrima. Architektura sakralna (katolicka) przemysłowej części Górnego Śląska 1870–1914, Katowice 2003, pp. 57–71.

[25] G. Sorger, Johannes Franciskus Klomp 1865–1946. Architekt des Späthistorismus in Westfalen, Hannover 1998.

[26] [accessed: 30 Mar. 2016].

[27] Rudowska 1972 (fn. 1), p. 52.

[28] Graliński 1949 (fn. 23), p. 12.

[29] AAŁ, ADŁ, sign. 98, pp. 8–10.

[30] AAŁ, ADŁ, sign. 96, pp. 414–415.

[31] K. Stefański, Johannes Wende – zapomniany budowniczy dawnej Łodzi, “Tygiel Kultury”, 2008, nos. 7–9, pp. 100–111.

[32] K. Stefański, Johannes Wende und Richard Schlein – zwischen Lodz und Zittau, in: Lodz jenseits von “Fabriken, Wildwest und Provinz”, eds. S. Dyroff, K. Radziszewska, I. Röskau-Rydel, München 2009 (= Kulturwissenschaftliche Studien über die Deutschen in und aus den polnischen Gebiet, Polono-Germanica 4, Schriften der Kommission für die Geschichte der Deutschen in Polen e.V.), pp. 117–128.

[33]Kronika Łódzka. Nowe firmy, “Goniec Łódzki” I, 1898, no. 179, p. 2.

[34] Stefański 2008 (fn. 31), pp. 102–103.

[35] Kronika, “Rozwój”, 1898, no. 272, p. 2.

[36] [accessed: 30 Mar. 2016].

[37] The proper name of Cichorski was said to be: Piotr Wymyśliński, see: Graliński 1949 (fn. 23), p. 12. This author, either as Cichorski, or Wymyśliński, is not known to Polish history of art, he was said to have been born in Warsaw, and studied in Paris, in École Spécial d’Architecture; see – AAŁ, ADŁ, sign. 96, p. 16.

[38] He was described as archdiece architect, ibidem.

[39] O nowy kościół, “Rozwój”, 1898, no. 287, p. 3.

[40] In the described period this was the case in a competition for the Warsaw Church of the Saviour from 1901. The winner was a Neo-Gothic design by Stefan Szyller but the one submitted for execution included renaissance-baroque works by Dziekoński, Panczakiewicz and Żychiewicz; see: Rudowska 1972 (fn. 1), pp. 52–53; M. Omilanowska, Stefan Szyller 1857–1933. Warszawski architekt doby historyzmu, Warszawa 1995, vol. I, pp. 48–49, vol. II, pp. 46–47.

[41] AAŁ, ADŁ, sign. 98, pp. 16–18.

[42] AAŁ ADŁ, sign. 96, p. 417; cf. Zum Projekt der Erbauung einer vierten katholischen Kirche in Lodz, “Lodzer Zeitung” 36, 1899, no. 12, p. 3.

[43] K. Stefański, Józef Pius Dziekoński a budowa łódzkiej katedry, “Kwartalnik Architektury i Urbanistyki” XL, 1996, issue 2, pp. 161–167.

[44] AAŁ, ADŁ, sign. 96, p. 353.

[45] Poświęcenie kamienia węgielnego pod nowy kościół, “Rozwój”, 1901, no. 138, p. 2; W. Rowiński, Założenie kościoła w Łodzi, “Tygodnik Ilustrowany” 5, 1901, no. 27, p. 531.

[46] AAŁ, ADŁ, sign. 98, pp. 44–45.

[47] Rev. T. Graliński, Kościół katedralny św. Stanisława Kostki (III), “Wiadomości Diecezjalne Łódzkie” XXIII, 1949, no. 2, pp. 49–50; Wieczorek 1985 (fn. 5), pp. 65–67; Stefański 1995 (fn. 5), pp. 95–97.

[48] See fn. 45.

[49] W. Czajewski, Pamiątka dwudziestopięciolecia pracy kapłańskiej i społecznej ks. Wincentego Tymienieckiego, Łódź 1920, pp. 8–9.

[50] Graliński 1949 (fn. 23), p. 12; Rudowska 1972 (fn. 1), p. 38; Wieczorek 1985 (fn. 5), pp. 61–62.

[51] Preisbewerbungen, “Deutsche Bauzeitung” XXXII, 1898, Heft 98, p. 632.

[52] K. Chojnacka, Emil i Georg Zillmannowie – architekci z Charlottenburga. Omówienie twórczości na wybranych przykładach, MA thesis written at the University of Lodz under the supervision of prof. dr. hab. Krzysztof Stefański, Łódź 2015, p. 18. Emil Zillman along with his cousin Georg Zillmann, leading an office in Charlottenburg are known in Poland as the creators of two interesting blocks of flats for workers near Katowice: in Giszowiec and Nikiszowiec as well as the Church of St Anna standing in Nikiszowiec. See: D. Głazek, Architektura sakralna Emila and Georga Zillmannów, in: Sztuka Górnego Śląska na przecięciu dróg europejskich i regionalnych. Materiały V Seminarium Sztuki Górnośląskiej odbytego w dniach 14–15 listopada 1997 roku w Katowicach, ed. E. Chojecka, Katowice 1999, pp. 405–413; J. Tofilska, Emil i Georg Zillmannowie, architekci z Charlottenburga, in: Przemiany protoindustrialne i industrialne jako czynnik miastotwórczy Katowic, ed. A. Barciak, Katowice 2007, pp. 219–223.

[53] Cf. K. Stefański, Jak zbudowano przemysłową Łódź. Architektura i urbanistyka miasta w latach 1821–1914, Łódź 2001, pp. 194–195.

[54] Zygzaki, “Rozwój”, 1902, no. 89, p. 2.

[55] Graliński 1949 (fn. 47), pp. 49–54; Wieczorek (fn. 5), pp. 65–73; Stefański 1996 (fn. 5), pp. 19–30.

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