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Jewish Craft School of the ORT Society

Kaunas, Lithuania
1 of 2
zydu amatu mokyklos ORT ikonele

ORT - Jewish craft and agricultural labor society, founded at the end of the 19th century. The purpose and concern of the society – to provide Jews with working knowledge and skills. Jews graduating from these schools became tailors, gardeners, mechanics, craftsmen, etc. Not only a profession, but also secondary education was acquired here. The society paid the most attention to the socially vulnerable sections of the population and provided shelter - free housing and meals - during the study period. The Yiddish-language craft school in Kaunas was founded in December of 1921, in a two-story building belonging to the Jewish community on Italijos Street (the building has not survived to this day).

As the number of students increased, the old premises on Italijos Street no longer met the requirements of the school. The board of the society decided to build a new school building. At the beginning of 1934, a competition was announced for the design of the new building. In the same year, the building project was made by civil technician Mikas Grodzenskis. Soon, permission was obtained from the Kaunas City Municipality to build a craft school building on its own plot on Jonava Street. The building was built in 1935. After the construction of the building, a metalworking department was located on its first floor. In 1936, a new electrical engineering department started operating on the second floor. In 1937, the specialty of car repair was introduced in the school's metalworking department.

The building was designed with an irregular composition consisting of several connected rectangular volumes. The exterior of the building shows the influence of modernism as it has a modern and minimalistic look. Simple-looking rectangular volumes, smooth walls without any decoration and wide horizontal windows, through which a lot of natural light could enter the interior, became an essential aesthetic accent which gave the building a functional appearance. An equally important external compositional element is the vertical stair tower divided by narrow windows, which emphasizes the asymmetric composition of the building. These are typical features of school buildings of that time, found in many buildings of that time not only in Kaunas, but also elsewhere in Lithuania. According to the original project, the building was designed as a two-story building with a basement, and later a third floor was built.

Currently, the Faculty of Social Sciences of Vytautas Magnus University operates in the building.

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