< POLAND | ZAKOPANE: Grand Hotel Stamary
The origins of the Hotel are linked with the life of Maria Budziszewska (1872-1942) a well known opera singer. Her stage name was Stamary, which was a combination of her own
name and her father’s – Stanisław. At the start of the 20th century she settled in Zakopane and purchased a plot of land on Marszałkowska street (now Kościuszki street) with a view to building a hotel.
The design of the building was entrusted to a young architect Eugeniusz Wesołowski (1874-1950) who had moved to Zakopane in 1902. In 1901, Wesołowski was working for the Okocim brewery and on a trip to Zakopane he met Stanisław Witkiewicz, author of the ‘Zakopane’ architectural style. The highland architecture of the Zakopane Style made a great impression on Wesołowski who considered it a uniquely Polish phenomenon.
Construction of the hotel began in the Autumn of 1903, and in May 1905, The modern Hotel Stamary opened. At that time it was one of the most luxurious places to stay. Initially there were 35 guest rooms with a dining room and reception rooms. Most of the rooms had private balconies or verandahs and were fitted with double locks. The rooms had separate Summer and Winter ventilation systems and a mechanism to enable the opening of the upper window to a 45° angle. All the corners where walls and floors adjoined were rounded-off to facilitate easier cleaning.
The Stamary Hotel also had considerable park land surrounding it, reaching to the bus station. In the early 20th century the hotel was one of the most impressive buildings in Zakopane and quickly became the most renowned accommodation in town. It was a fashionable meeting place for the famous and influential, despite the fact that the first owner was a socialist agitator.
Shortly after opening there was a concert presenting the works of Karol Szymanowski. The hotel also organized theatre and dance evenings and many other concerts (including appearances by Budziszewska herself). Famous guests known to have stayed at the Stamary include, amongst others: Ignacy Paderewski [composer], Józef Konrad Korzeniowski [better known as the author – Joseph Conrad], Ignacy Daszyński [journalist, politician, Prime Minister and President of the Provisional Government of the Polish Republic in 1918], Wojciech Kossak [painter] and Maria Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska [Polish poet known as the "queen of lyrical poetry" and daughter of Wojciech Kossak].
The outbreak of the First World War also meant stagnation of the economy, which was felt by the owner of the Stamary. The whole hotel industry suffered from the scarcity of provisions and Budziszewska was forced to take out loans to keep the hotel functioning. Despite the financial difficulties, the Stamary was extended several times and new rooms were given to returning legionnaires by the owner. At around this time Józef Piłsudski also stayed at the hotel.
In 1929, Budziszewska’s entire estate was taken by the nation and in 1931 a board of administrators was established to control the Hotel. Budziszewska tried to raise funds by extending a swimming pool and restaurant complex in Jaszczurówka which she leased with her business partner Włodzimierz Berberyusz. That venture failed to provide income, and the Stamary Hotel was put up for auction. The town council purchased the Hotel for 1100 dollars and a Dr.Bahr was installed as the new owner. After 1935, the owner turned the Hotel over to a national bank. Maria Budziszewska was given lifelong use of one room on condition that she never spoke to the Hotel staff.
In 1939 at the outbreak of World War II, German soldiers of the Wehrmacht occupied the Hotel. It is not known whether Budziszewska continued to live in the Hotel or what happened to her in the ensuing three years. At the start of the German occupation, the Stamary Hotel was used for training Ukrainian soldiers to form an SS-Galizien corp to fight alongside Hitler’s troops.
The building also housed the area commandant, the so-called Standortkommandantur. Aside from the town commander the military police (Feldgendarmerie) were also billeted in the hotel, and could be seen patrolling the streets of Zakopane with their distinctive half-moon, metal breast plates. The Stamary was also the site of another wartime incident when a German fighter plane had to make an emergency landing in the Hotel grounds in 1944.
After the War, the National Enterprise Bank converted the Stamary in to a guest house for its employees. From 1948 the building belonged to the FWP (Employees Holiday Fund) who named the hotel ‘Przodownik’. The FWP began to extend the building further, also altering the facade. The work took place under the watchful eye of the Heritage Conservation Committee.
Also observing the building work was the architect, Eugeniusz Wesołowski, who fought to keep the original conception of the Stamary. To this end he personally delivered a letter to the then Director of the Tatra Museum – Juliusz Zborowski – defending his design. He argued that the Stamary was a valuable example of a distinctive national architectural style, which should be preserved.
Until 1957 the building housed local administrative offices and that year was renamed once again, as ‘Podhale’. At this time, building also began in the grounds and parkland surrounding the hotel. In 1958, a piece of land adjoining the nearest street – Chramcówki – was designated for PKS, the Polish bus and coach service. In 1960, on the remaining land, work began on a large guest house for workers in the rail industry.
The FWP were forced to sell the Podhale in 2002 because of financial difficulties. A huge rebuilding and restoration project took place and the building was returned to its original purpose and name, opening as a new four star hotel in 2006. Thanks to the present owners, the Grand Hotel Stamary retained its magnificent architectural form and stylish interiors.
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