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House of R. O. Nochimas

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Huriye Armağan Doğan

Sadly, if you look at Vytautas Ave. from the railway station today, you will see two houses of modern architecture, but in deplorable condition, forming the entrance to the Lithuanian city famous for its interwar architecture and culture. Meanwhile, in the 1930s, the two buildings - the Locarno Hotel and the house of Romas Ovsiej Nochim - had undoubtedly become modern and architecturally expressive gateways to the city.

The first application for a house on the corner of M.K. Čiurlionas Street and Vytautas Avenue dates back to 1929 when a rather ornate, historicist design was drawn up. However, in response to the application, the City Building Commission stated that " construction cannot be allowed because it is planned to lay a street and enlarge the square on that site." After the abandonment of such urban plans in 1930, R. O. Nochimas again applied for "a two-storey brick house". This time permission was granted, but on the condition that "a gap of 12 metres be left /unbuilt/ between the old brick houses on Čiurlionies Street and the new ones, the area of which is reserved for the passage of Šerno Street". Later that year, the owner decided to apply for permission to build one more floor". By 15 January 1931, the construction had already been completed. In 1931, the openings on the ground floor were slightly modified.

The owner of the plot kept an oil workshop, 'Kaunas', which he bought in 1926 'from Ksenija Helvegiene and Max Helweg'. The latter had set up an establishment there in 1924. Around 1930, the factory's activities were temporarily interrupted but resumed a few years later. In March 1933, it was already written that "opposite the railway station, just off the street, there are old wooden plank buildings occupied by an oil workshop, and there is also a residence for M. Romas"[9]. In 1936 the owner had the idea of improving the workshop. However, permission for this project was refused because "a factory in that area with a strong smell is undesirable". However, although the inter-ministerial commission for the review of industrial enterprise projects suspended the introduction of the additional oil refining function[11], the factory itself probably continued to operate until almost the end of independence (the last recorded operating permit was valid until 15 September 1938).

The building has two entrances from its street side, one from Vytatuto Street and the other one from M. K. Čiurlionio Street. While the entrance from M. K. Čiurlionio Street is more representative and part of a composition with the windows on top, the one at Vytatuto Street is just a single door. M. K. Čiurlionio façade can be regarded as more symmetrical since the four balconies on this façade follow the same axis (two each on the first floor and second floor). However, on the other façade, while two large balconies are located on the same axis, the other four are arranged diagonally. There are vertical elements, which were made of plaster, between the windows, giving the impression of threaded columns. At the back façade of the building, there is a circular window on top of one of the entrances. At the intersection of the two front façade, there is a bay window, which is two-storey high. This part of the façade accentuated the fact that the building is at a corner plot.

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