Architecture of sacral and parsonage buildings in Pilviškiai area

Marija Rupeikienė, Antanas Rupeika

The localities in the area of the former Pilviškiai Valsčius (a rural district), such as Pilviškiai, Alksnėnai, Antanavas, Bagotoji, Didvyžiai, Mažučiai, Paežeriai, Parausiai and Žalioji, as well as sacral and parsonage buildings present there (or extinct) are studied in the paper.

In Pilviškiai before the WWII, there were four religious communities: Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran, Methodist, and Jewish. All they had houses of worship. Now Catholic Church and United Methodist Church operate in Pilviškiai. The building of the former temporary Catholic Church and fragments of the walls of the Evangelical Lutheran Church have survived.  The place of the former Methodist Church and the places of the synagogues have been determined. Former temporary church is of laconic forms of ethnic architecture. The current Catholic Church in Pilviškiai has original modern forms; the influence of the modernized neo-baroque popular among the interwar architects is felt. The belfry has neo-Gothic forms; its facades are enlivened by opening edging, plastered niche planes and embossed wide friezes. The Evangelical Lutheran Church fell into disrepair; only part of its authentic walls have survived. The United Methodist Church is of modern architecture. In its plans and exterior, the functional spaces of the premises are separated by different architectural means; the prayer hall is bright and of simple space; laconic forms are notable for the most important objects of liturgical purpose. From the middle of the 19th century until the WWII, many Jews lived in Pilviškiai. By the early 20th century they accounted for more than half of the town’s population. In the middle of the 19th century, during the Romantic period, two wooden Jewish houses of worship: a summer synagogue and a winter house of worship were in Pilviškiai. In 1900, architect V. Rybarskis, engineer of Marijampolė county, on the plot near the Šešupė River, where the synagogue and wooden houses of Jewish prayer stood, designed a brick choral synagogue in the place were a wooden one had been standing. It was ornate, neo-baroque in shape, with decorative elements. In the interwar period, one of the synagogues standing in the Market Square burned down. In 1927, S. Eichenberg prepared a project for the reconstruction of the synagogue. After the reconstruction, the architecture of the synagogue became eclectic, alien stylised decor elements that did not match the shape of arched windows appeared. In the northern part of Pilviškiai, northwest of the synagogue site, between the road and Jurbarko Street, a Jewish Cemetery was established. Not far from the Jewish cemetery and away from Šešupė, in 1893 it was planned to build a Jewish Bath.

Alksnėnai Church is notable for its asymmetric plan and unconventionally resolved connection of the presbytery - apse and sacristy, as well as original modernised neoclassical architectural forms. Alksnėnai Belfry is of primitive forms and laconic architecture; the colour scheme and details of its facades are combined with the architecture of the church. Antanavas Chapel is of original hexagonal plan; its exterior is dominated by laconic forms of ethnic architecture enlivened by stylised order elements; and Classicist forms were used to decorate the altar. Bagotoji Church architecture is eclectic: the exterior features modernized Baroque features, while the edges contain stylised Neo-Renaissance elements, whereas the tops of the towers witness a significant Gothic influence; the interior is notable for Baroque and neo-Gothic elements and manifestations of ethnic and modified Classicism architecture. Didvyžiai Church exterior is eclectic: with transformed forms of Medieval styles and order elements; the interior is dominated by stylised order forms.

Mažučiai compound of sacral buildings consists of a wooden Chapel of the Holy Source, stone masonry chapel, 14 chapel pillars of the Secrets of the Pain and Joy of Virgin Mary, roof pillars, crosses, a well and other small architectural structures. Paežeriai Chapel is an ethnic valuable architectural monument with the sacristy (constructed not to all the chapels), bell-turret and two altars. Parausiai Chapel is of original architecture, where ethnic and modified stylized order details are combined. Žalioji Church is of laconic architecture; it was rebuilt from a utility; therefore, the structure of its plan is unconventional and the wall thicknesses are different. In length of time, the Žalioji Church and parsonage homestead buildings underwent many transformations.