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House of Jurgis and Aleksandra Iljinas

Kaunas, Lithuania
1 of 12

The house on K. Donelacio 19 was built in 1933 according to the design of the famous engineer and architect Arnas Funkas. The supervision of the construction works was carried out by S. Grinkevičius. In 1934, a concrete fire staircase was added to the façade according to the design of Arnas Funkas. The house was owned by railway engineer Jurgis Iljinas and his wife Aleksandra, who lived on the first floor of the house. The entrance to this luxurious apartment was from the side façade. The house has a basement, an elevated ground floor and a first floor. On the ground floor, there were two flats which were for rent, and on the roof, there was a recreational terrace with an orangery. This area was visible through the glass ceiling of the hall on the first floor.

The entrance door for the rented flats from the main street, which is high, opens to a staircase. While the stair on the left goes up ten steps to reach the elevated ground of the flats, the stair on the right goes down to the basement by four steps. Therefore, an approximately five-meter-high door provides light to this stair hall. Both flats contain two rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. On the other hand, the first floor flat has an entrance hall, lounge, guest room, dining room, two bedrooms, kitchen, guest toilet, bathroom and a cloakroom. Furthermore, it has internal stairs leading to the maid's room and the conservatory on the roof.

Above the main entrance, there is a bay room which connects to the main façade with a corner window. Furthermore, there is a big circular window on this bay as well. The building has a horizontal emphasis with a frame on the bay and also around the east window on the first floor. On the roof, there is also a small room/storage area which is formed by the combination of a rectangular and a half circle. This room has two horizontal strips on its surface.

The house is distinguished by its luxurious and exclusive art deco interior. Architect Arnas Funkas designed a special corner with a Moroccan influence for this building according to the request of Alexandra Iljinas. At this corner, an exquisite wood-carved alcove was installed for relaxation.

In January 1941, the house was nationalised. Singer Gražina Matulaitytė and her husband, journalist and poet Aleksis Rannits, moved into the first floor instead of the owners, who had fled to Germany. During the Soviet era, it was the headquarters of various organisations, including the Kaunas branch of the Society of Laisvanoryska Aid to the Army, Aviation and Navy, and later the building belonged to the Fire Brigade.

The building was renovated in 2018. The exterior and interior details and proportions have been meticulously maintained. The renovation has given the grey building a white glow, while the interior recalls the unique Art Deco style of the 1930s and 1940s. Today, this exceptional building is rented out. While the ground floor flats are rented for residential purposes, the first-floor apartment is rented to an office. It is possible to have excursions to the first floor flat to have the gist of the interwar period daily life. The building is one of the most famous and unique interwar modernist buildings in Kaunas and Lithuania and is listed as a European Heritage Site.

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