Interwar architecture

An ingenious story about the old that is also the new

Explore the interwar architecture

1918 – 1929

Telšiai Žemaitė School
Šviesos g. 15, Telšiai
1918
The school was named after the Lithuanian writer Žemaitė in 1945 when the centennial of her birthday was being celebrated. During the occupation the Lithuanian language remained a priority here despite the current politics. In addition, this school can pride itself on its esteemed alumni - Vytautas Mačernis, Alma Adamkienė, Alfredas Bumblauskas and others.
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The Building
Kęstučio g. 3, Telšiai
1920
This three storey red masonry building must have really stood out at the time. Even today it’s surrounded by smaller wooden houses. There used to be Džiugas cinema and in 2016 the Centre for the Research and Preservation of Applied Art Heritage of Vilnius Academy of Art in Telšiai was opened.
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Antanas Mončys House-Museum
S. Daukanto g. 16 / Kęstučio g. 17, Palanga
1921
Architect Petras Lapė chose a bright blue colour for the façade of this building. He told the journalists: ‘In my personal opinion wood should be painted in bright colour. Why should wood look like plaster? In this part of the country people used to paint houses with homemade paint. Only the paint they made themselves would withstand the harsh seaside climate.’
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Vytautas the Great War Museum and M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art
K. Donelaičio g. 64, Kaunas
1921
The foundation stone of the National M. K. Čiurlionis Art Museum was laid in 1930, the same year as the 500th anniversary of the death of Vytautas The Great was commemorated. The soil for the construction of the foundations was taken both from the sites of the Lithuanian Wars of Independence and the hill of Gediminas Castle.
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KTU Central Administration Building
K. Donelaičio g. 73, Kaunas
1924
The design of this building features forms of neoclassical architecture and is influenced by functionalism and contemporary trends of the design of financial institutions. ‘All kinds of expensive plaster decorations and ornaments, though pleasing to the eye but in reality just there to collect dust, are not seen in the newly built Agriculture Bank House’. –quote from Lietuvos Aidas newspaper from 1935.
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The yellow mineral water pump-room
B. Sruogos g. 3, Birštonas
1928
The French word buvette means ‘a refreshment room on top of a mineral water spring‘. Ignotas Kvinta, the owner of the resort town in the beginning of the century, named the spring after his daughter Viktorija. Later on a contemporary writer and a clergyman Juozas Tumas- Vaižgantas came up with a new name- Vytautas. Mineral water produced in Birštonas bearing Vytautas‘ name is currently one of the most popular in Lithuania.
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Former house of painter Antanas Žmuidzinavičiaus
V. Putvinskio g. 64, Kaunas
1928
A collection of devil related artefacts was started here by the owner of the house after the famous clergyman and writer Vaižgantas presented him with the first folk statue of a devil. After the death of A. Zmuidzinavičius in 1966 a museum was opened here with the collection of his paintings and devils. Soon after that both his apartment and his workshop were opened to the public.
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Kaunas State Philharmonic
E. Ožeškienės g. 12, Kaunas
1929
For twenty years after the beginning of the Soviet occupation this palace was a place for various activities- the Ministry of Waterways of Lithuanian Communist Socialist Republic, the architectural institute, even the puppet theatre. The city philharmonic moved here in 1961 and the building was renovated in 2004 per designs of heritage architect Rymantė Gudienė.
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Bank of Lithuania
Maironio g. 25, Kaunas
1929
It is interesting to note that this bank was also a residential property - it had apartments, garages and laundry rooms for employees. The Prime Minister Augustinas Voldemaras and his family had a lavish 8 bedroomed apartment. They had a library, a waiting room with a balcony and a separate entrance with their own private elevator.
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Circle Rectangle Square Triangle

1930 – 1932

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1930 – 1932

Bishops’ Palace
Katedros a. 5, Telšiai
1930
‘The palace is very beautiful and spacious and filled with modern equipment and comforts. And it is built in the most beautiful spot of Telšiai’- a quote from Lietuvos Aidas newspaper issue from August 19th 1930.
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The building of the Birštonas Tourism Information Centre
B. Sruogos g. 4, Birštonas
1930
Wooden architecture was not fashionable in the modernist urban centres of Lithuania in the interwar period. However, for the same reason it suited the small resort town very well. There were also some apartments in this building where the state officials from the cities would often stay. It also housed the local post office and a health centre.
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Dwelling house
Laisvės al. 8, Plungė
1931
In the 1920s it was decided to build a Freedom monument in Plungė. Before it was completed the local community expressed dissatisfaction that the symbol, an angel, was portrayed bare chested. At the same time the town’s intellectuals didn’t agree with building a monument with religious symbols. Thus, the statue stood dilapidated for a few years until it was dismantled. Its further fate remains a mystery.
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Kurhaus
B. Sruogos g. 2, Birštonas
1931
Kurhauzas comes from a German word Kurhaus or ‘an assembly room of a spa‘. Contemporary records tell us that this building was abandoned for a long time. Then after some renovation it was used as a performance venue for the local orchestra on Saturdays. In 1931 it was demolished and the new Kurhauzas was built. Today the building is still used as a venue as well as an exhibition hall and a restaurant.
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Kaunas Artists’ House
V. Putvinskio g. 56, Kaunas
1931
The representatives of Vatican have never actually resided here. A children‘s hospital was established here in 1932, later converted to a hospital for treatment of tuberculosis and then a kindergarten. Kaunas Artists‘ House will soon celebrate the 50th anniversary of being established in the building. Visitors are welcome here every day where various cultural and art events take place.
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Žaliakalnis (Green Hill) Funicular
Aušros g. 6, Kaunas
1931
The funicular railway was an instant hit with the local population. In November 1931 Lietuvos Aidas newspaper reported that ‘even when the funicular is out of order people still queue outside out of habit. Eventually they end up climbing or going down the hill themselves.’
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Police building
Vytauto g. 1 and Vytauto g. 3, Plungė county
1932
This building in the beginning of Vytauto street was built after the devastating fire of 1931. The building is curved, has two storeys and features modernist shapes and a contemporary masonry façade. Records told that a petrol station with an underground tank was built next to the new hotel.
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Plungė Railway Station and Plungė House for Railway Workers
Stoties g. 44, Plungė
1932
It was a big event as a lot of tradesmen lived in Plungė and the opening of a new railway link meant swifter import and export. The railway helped the town grow and develop. On the opening day the President of Lithuania Antanas Smetona arrived on the first train to Plungė.
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Kaunas Central Post Office
Laisvės al. 102, Kaunas
1932
It is interesting to note that for almost a century the purpose of this building hasn‘t been changed. Kaunas Central Post Office is one of the most important and precious objects to the locals. 44 Kaunas buildings from the interwar period, including the Central Post Office, were included in the European Heritage Label list by the European Commission in 2015.
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Former building of the Pieno centras (Milk Centre) company
Laisvės al. 55 / S. Daukanto g. 18, Kaunas
1932
The ground floor of the eloquent building was assigned for commerce - a milk bar, a shop, a snack bar and a very fashionable Juozas Muralis beauty salon. The wives of the most important men in the city would visit this parlour. The two top floors of the building had apartments with great views of the city. Just like the Muralis parlour these were only accessible to the rich and powerful.
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Circle Rectangle Square Triangle

1933 – 1935

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1933 – 1935

Birštonas Museum
Vytauto g. 9, Birštonas
1933
One of the local foresters decided to earn some extra money by renting rooms to holidaymakers and this is how this villa was built. Before the Soviet occupation it was popular with teachers who would come here to rest. The private villa was later turned over to state ownership and became Ramunė guest house. Since 1967 these premises have been occupied by Birštonas Museum.
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The Tulpės sanatorium mud and water healing site
Birutės g. 35, Birštonas
1933
‘The mineral water, charcoal and mud treatment baths in Birštonas‘ sanatoriums are so popular with the ever increasing number of visitors that no rain can stop them from coming’ – a quote from Lietuvos Aidas newspaper in August 1935.
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Former building of Antanas Gylys Hospital
V. Putvinskio g. 62, Kaunas
1933
This building has been a unique element of the architectural complex on Putvinskio street. Initially it was a private hospital but it was turned over to the state during the Soviet occupation and a health centre was opened here after regaining the independence. Many details of the original interior were uncovered during the renovation of the building and the original 1930s Swiss Schindler elevator is still operational.
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Former building of the Pažanga (Progress) company
Laisvės al. 53, Kaunas
1934
The headquarters of the ruling party at the time - Lithuanian Nationalist and Republican Union - as well as the editorial and administrative offices of Lietuvos Aidas newspaper and Jaunoji Karta magazine were located in this building. A restaurant was opened on the top floor, Parama clothing store was opened on the ground floor and the roof terrace was opened to the public. Even the basement was busy with people- the assembly hall was located there.
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Lithuanian Garrison Officers’ Club Villa
Birutės al. 46, Palanga
1935
This wooden summerhouse in Palanga was acquired by the Officers‘ Palace in 1934. The following spring the building was renovated and 20 rooms were ready for up to 50 guests at a time. Once a sign for Villa Ramovė was put up it became an instant hit with holidaymakers in Palanga.
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Faculty of Chemical Technology
Radvilėnų pl. 19, Kaunas
1935
To prevent any accidents the construction of this building was overlooked by a representative of the military- Colonel Juozas Vėbra. He was an engineer and had a PHD in Chemistry. He travelled to the most modern contemporary laboratories in Germany, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Spain to help him draw up the designs of this building.
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Circle Rectangle Square Triangle

1936 – 1940

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1936 – 1940

Telšiai Crafts School
Muziejaus g. 29, Telšiai
1936
The school’s buildings are connected in an innovative way and the areas in-between the windows are decorated with red bricks and masonry that match the building’s roof. Telšiai Trade School was the predecessor of the more modern Telšiai Faculty of Vilnius Academy of Art. It‘s interesting to note that the furniture that was designed and manufactured here was awarded gold medal in the New York Exhibition in 1939.
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Telšiai Theatre
Respublikos g. 18, Telšiai
1936
The ground floor of this building housed the ticket office, the coat room and a cafe. Through a separate entrance from A. Smetonos street the shops could be accessed. The first and second floors were the location of the main hall that hosted performances and other events for up to 260 local and out of town guests.
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Villa Vaidilutė
J. Basanavičiaus g. 21, Palanga
1936
‘On the main tourist avenue in Palanga, on J. Basanavičiaus street, amidst bars that play loud Russian music, a strange hut floats. It is the Museum of Exile and Resistance and it looks like a rowboat that accidentally got onto a speedboat track‘ - a 2015 quote from journalist Dovydas Pancerovas.
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Kaunas Garrison Officers’ Club
A. Mickevičiaus g. 19, Kaunas
1937
The interior of this building‘s ground floor is decorated with luxurious materials but is far from pompous. A restaurant of historical value is located there- this is where the New Years celebrations with then President of Lithuania Antanas Smetona used to be hosted.
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Kaunas Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Crafts
K. Donelaičio g. 8, Kaunas
1938
After the World War II a library was established here and this helped the building to be preserved. Today it is still used as a library because the Old and Rare Prints Department of the Kaunas County Public Library is located here. The employees of the library often host exhibitions about the history of Kaunas city.
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Building of the State Forest Enterprise
Laisvės al. 19, Plungė
1939
For the anniversary of Vytautas the Great‘s death an oak tree was planted and named after him next to the State Forestry Building. It is believed that in the post-war period this building was a war commandant’s headquarters where wronged soviet soldiers were kept. This story is told by the notes found in the building’s basement.
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Palanga old bus station
Vytauto g. 94 / Kretingos g. 1, Palanga
1939
As there was a need for a bus station for the holidaymakers in 1930s Palanga, a lot was acquired between Kretingos and Vytauto streets and the old market square. The locals weren‘t too sentimental about the old buildings there- this new project gave the start for the modernisation of Palanga.
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Palanga Vladas Jurgutis’ Elementary School
Ganyklų g. 2 / Kretingos g. 21, Palanga
1939
An exquisit feature of the buildings design was the inclusion of spacious quarters for holidaymakers and tourists. It could house up to 200 people! That’s a great example of savvy businessmanship here by the sea- why would anyone keep the school building empty in the summer when it could be making money?
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Sugihara House
Vaižganto g. 30, Kaunas
1939
In 1940 Polish Jews, mostly refugees, contacted Dutch Consul Jan Zwartendijk in Kaunas. He agreed to issue them visas to travel to a Caribbean island. Furthermore, he contacted the Japanese Consul as transit visas were also required for such trip. Chiune Sugihara issued 2139 transit visas for this purpose and it is calculated that his actions saved six to ten thousand people.
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Kaunas City Municipality
Laisvės al. 96, Kaunas
1940
The ground floor was completely renovated soon after regaining the independence from the Soviet Union when the city municipality moved here. Today the authentic rotating doors welcome us inside and the interior elements that survived the occupation look perfect in the photos. The stained glass ceiling of the main hall is an example of art deco graphics.
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Romuva Cinema
Laisvės al. 54, Kaunas
1940
‘Another rumour dispelled... The rumour had it that soon there would be a new cinema opened in Laisvės Alėja and that it would have the most modern café on its premises. As it turns out, the cinema is almost completed but there is no trace of a café…’- this ironic opening quote was featured in an article about Romuva cinema in the April 8th issue of Lietuvos Aidas newspaper from 1940.
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Kaunas Our Lord Jesus Christ’s Resurrection Basilica
Žemaičių g. 31A, Kaunas
1940
One of the initial designs of this building reminisces of the paintings of M. K. Čiurlionis. It featured exposed stairs around an 86 metre tall tower. It was widely discussed by the public but later a design by K. Reisons was adapted for this building. Did you know that this architect was of Latvian origin and was rumoured to be converted from a protestant to a catholic for this project?
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Circle Rectangle Square Triangle

Year unknown

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Year unknown

The complex of villas in Druskininkai
Maironio g. 14 and Maironio g. 12, Druskininkai
A complex of two villas is located away from the town centre. Surrounded by thick vegetation it blends in well with its environment. One of the buildings pulsates with Italian romanticism; it accommodated a restaurant and a guest house. The other one, more Swiss in its style, is nowadays open to public. The cafe Širdelė has been catering to its customers there for many years.
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Church of Saint Mary’s Scapular in Druskininkai
I. Fonbergo g. 15, Druskininkai
An interesting detail can be found in the town’s archives - during the Soviet occupation a priest Juozas Vaičiūnas was assigned to Druskininkai Church. Famous people would come to visit him and stay in the parsonage- they included the linguist Juozas Balčikonis and the writer Vincas Mykolaitis-Putinas.
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Villa Radium
T. Kosciuškos g. 7, Druskininkai
The story tells us that the name of this villa was inspired by the chemical element radium which was found in that water of local springs. If that doesn‘t sound romantic enough we should remember that it was only discovered a decade earlier and that the element was named after the French word for ‘a ray of sun’.
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Sanatorium
Kurorto g. 6, Druskininkai
There are no records naming the person who designed this sanatorium. Nevertheless, it is a building worth staying in because of its peaceful location and distinctive architecture. Visitors of the sauna on the ground floor can enjoy the views of the river Nemunas through the panoramic windows.
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Villa Maurė
Laisvės a. 21, Druskininkai
The villa was in a critical condition during the Soviet occupation, however, it was renovated in 2004 and apartments for holidaymakers were fit out. Nowadays the hotel Dalija is located here and the authentic carved wood staircase can still be admired.
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