The architecture of sacral and parish buildings in the area of Kupiškis

Marija Rupeikienė, Antanas Rupeika

There are sacral buildings in Kupiškis, Bagdonys, Palėvenė, Palėvenėlė and Uoginiai; all these sites belong to the Kupiškio District, but Uoginiai is beyond the former Kupiškis Valsčius (rural district) boundaries. Kupiškis lies in its middle part, Bagdonys and Palėvenėlė are in the northern part, and Palėvenė is in the southern part of the valsčius.

In Kupiškis, there are following sacral buildings: a Catholic church, several parish houses and outhouses, and two buildings of former synagogues. There is a Catholic cemetery at the eastern outskirts of the town at the end of Kapų Street; a site of Jewish old cemetery and remnants of second cemetery on the left bank of the Kupa River east of Gedimino Street. In 1897, permission had been given to build a church that is standing now; it had been designed by Konstantin Ronchevsky, a professor at the Riga Polytechnic Institute. Its construction started in 1900. The old wooden church was destroyed in 1903 and its material was used to erect a makeshift building and a chapel in the cemetery. In 1914, the construction of the church was finished with dedication ceremony. The church is of Neo-Gothic shape; its exterior architecture and interior with its equipment are similar in style. Some small sacral elements are formed at the periphery of the churchyard under the trees. The former olden parsonage is built of mixed constructions: its middle (the oldest) part is erected of logs boarded up with the red-brick end wings built later. Its architecture is rather simple–even wall planes are dissected by small quadrangular windows. There is a museum in the olden parish school; with an ell of a step plan contour added to the western side facade. The volume of the building and its facade remained unchanged. The building is of quiet classical forms brightened by uneven variegated stone masonry facture with smaller stone chips inserted and white plaster details. North of the church at Pergalės Street, there is a present-day parsonage homestead–a living house and two outhouses forming a half-closed yard. The church house (almshouse) Gedimino St. 3 was a wooden building. Its volume remained unchanged, but the walls are fronted by white silicate bricks. The church house in Gedimino St. 12, built of logs is of complex volume, single-storey, with an attic and a dual pitched roof. According to its volume and plan structure it resembles the almshouses. The buildings of two former (Grand and Hasidic) synagogues remained in Kupiškis up to now at the Lauryno Stuokos-Gucevičiaus square. The Grand Synagogue was and important formant of this town environment, since its monumental volume was standing out against the surrounding. Now there is a library in it. The Hasidic Synagogue was of a small simple volume, single-storey, with a high four-sided iron roof. Its architecture resembles that of the Grand Synagogue. Now there is a building without style features used for industrial purposes.

In Bagdonys 1938 m. there is an Old Orthodox believers’ church built of stones and bricks in 1938; nearby a cemetery was formed in 1980. The Old Orthodox Believers Church is in the northern part of the Bagdonys Village. Its architecture is laconic and functional. Its composition of facades is characteristic of the churches of the Lithuanian old Orthodox believers–with a blind eastern facade and different numbers of windows on side facades. The olden cemetery of Old Orthodox believers remained in the Kauniškis Village.

In the central part of Palėvenė there is a compound of sacral buildings: a church, a monastery with farm buildings and a parsonage with a utility building. The compound of the church and the monastery is on a wide land plot at Vienuolyno Street. The church is in the southern part of the compound; farm buildings are in the northern part, while the monastery is sandwiched between the church and the outhouses. The churchyard is separated from the monastery by a fence; the fences girdle the monastery and three utility buildings, which stand so that they form two interconnected yards: a clean one (monastery yard) and the outhouse. The Palėvenė St. Dominic church stands in the northern part of the churchyard, outermost of the street facing it by its side facade. It is a one tower church of irregular cross plan and single-naved. The exterior of the church is uneven: simple Baroque forms discord with very high tower of eclectic architecture of the historicism period. The interior space is compact and cosy; the liturgy objects forming it and plastic decorative accents make up a stylistically joint ensemble. In 1991, a conception for monastery renewal and arrangement had been worked out. The walls of the building are even with a profiled cornice at the top (there are some cornice fragments); the windows of corner towers and ground floor windows of the eastern facade are pointed up by straight crossheads (caps). Most of interior rooms have cylindrical and cross vaults, there are some wall niches as well. Now the monastery is impoverished and not used, walls are without plaster in some places, the roof is covered with slating. The restoration works have begun. The outhouses of the monastery are north of the monastery, they girdled the farm yard from three sides and coincided with the fence sides of the compound. The U-shape full plan contained three buildings. Up to now, only two buildings–eastern and western ones–survived; only some fragments remained of the northern building linking the above-mentioned two and they coincide with the fence. West of the churchyard, on the other side of Vienuolyno Street, there is the parsonage homestead, composed of a house and an outhouse. The architecture of the parsonage is simple and typical of homestead buildings in small towns.

The Palėvenėlė church with a churchyard and gate-belfry is at the southern outskirt of the village. This single naved hall-type church without a tower, but with turrets at the ends of roof ridge, is built of bricks plastered with low stonework and plastered base (socle); it is covered by a pitch-roof and pent-roofs; its plan is of irregular cross shape ending with a straight apse. The church is of simple classic forms close to unprofessional ethnic architecture buildings; the silhouette of front pediment shows influence of Baroque as well. In the interior, primitive classicism forms prevail, while the composition of organ prospectus reflects medieval form styles of historicism period.

The gate-belfry built in 1803 in front of the main facade consists of four columns and has no walls, a four-pitched iron roof and small conic turret with openwork cross. The parsonage homestead is west of the gate-belfry on the opposite side of the Lėvens Street. The parsonage is a single-storey building of complex volume, with an attic and stonework base, it is covered with a high pitched roof. Now the building is not used. The outhouse was of small integral volume; later provisional annexes were nestled from the eastern and southern sides. A house of more original architecture, where church servants used to live, is beyond the churchyard wall; its main facade is turned towards the side facade of the church. It is of small complex volume built of logs with an elevated stone base (socle). Combination of colours for wall planes and décor elements make the house more decorative.

In Uoginiai there is a cemetery chapel that belonged to the Kupiškis deanery in 1929–1940. The cemetery is in the western part of the village near to the crossing of Muziejaus and Karjero streets. The chapel stands in the central part of the cemetery. It is of a complex volume with a porch and a turret–a small belfry. The walls are built of logs with vertical boarding; the chapel is of octagonal plan with a quadrangular open protruding porch. The Uoginiai Chapel is an ethnic architecture sample of rare centred-plan chapel with a four-column portico characteristic of the Classicism style.

Conclusions. Generalising, it can be said that in the area of Kupiškis there are valuable objects of culture heritage having not only historical lasting value but also notable for exceptional architectural forms and significant urban features. The oldest and most valuable architecture and urban heritage object in Kupiškis area is the compound of Palėvenė church and monastery buildings having the status of culture monument. Other objects valuable for the culture in Kupiškis area are as follows: former Kupiškis parish school, Palėvenėlė church with a belfry, Uoginiai cemetery chapel; all they are recognised the cultural values and are notable for original architecture forms.