History of the Manor
The emergence of the manor in Plungė is associated with the late 16th century. For long years, Plungė Manor as a landholding of the Grand Duke of Lithuania as well as Plungė eldership was administered by different noblemen: Dorohostaiskiai, Valavičiai, Krišpinai-Kiršenšteinai, Karpiai. In 1779, king Stanisław August Poniatowski assigned Plungė eldership and the manor to Vilnius bishop Ignotas Masalskis. In 1806, Plungė was passed into the ownership of the Russian Empire noblemen, namely, the Zubov family.
Duke Mykolas Mikalojus Oginskis acquired the Plungė domain with the manor, small town and seven homesteads in 1873 from Platon Alexandrovich Zubov. With the assistance of the architect Karl Lorenz, who was of German origin, and the performer of works Gotrfried Schrank a flamboyant ensemble of residential palace was designed and built which was masterly incorporated into the old mixed style park. Construction and installation activities took more than ten years. During this period, a palace of neo-renaissance style and two officines (servants’ houses), a neo-gothic stud farm, monumental gates of the park with a guard’s house, a laundry house, auxiliary gates and the house of the pheasant grower were built; a villa with a clock, which was built during the times of the Zubov family, was reconstructed next to the installed summer and winter orangerie; a lawyer’s house, plenty of other auxiliary buildings intended for servants were built.
The Oginskiai family fostered the ensemble of the palace and park, and devoted much time to Plungė trying to turn it into a representative and modern town.
At the turn of the 20th century, the Oginskiai residence was famous for its musical traditions, collections of the European and folk art, archaeology, numismatics, books, manuscripts, a professional orchestra, feasts organised by the hosts of the manor, scientific, technological and economic innovations.
Just before WWI the manor was left without its masters. The duke Mykolas Mikalojus Oginskis died young (1902), and the widowed duchess Marija Oginskienė had to move to Poland. From that time the manor was governed by the designated administrators. Although they tried to honestly fulfil their functions, the property of the duchess gradually fell into decline. The policy of the Republic of Lithuania which declared its independence did not favour big landowners. During a land reform, in the period from 1818 to 1919, the lands of Plungė Manor and holdings were expropriated. After the duchess Oginskienė refused to return to Lithuania, in 1921, the state took over the manor homestead as well. Soon different institutions were set up here. By the year 1934, the buildings of the manor accommodated the gymnasium of Saulė, Motiejus Valančius’ people’s school, teachers’ seminary, and the national stud farm.
From 1934 to 1940, when the 6th infantry of Margis and the 4th regiment of artillery were settled, the ensemble of the palace and the park were transferred into their disposition. At the time, there were the headquarters of these military units, officers’ club, and some apartments were installed for officers’ families. At the beginning of WWII, the palace and other buildings were severely damaged by fire and vandal destruction. The reconstruction started after the war in 1956. In 1961, a secondary school was established in the palace. In 1964, Plungė Manor ensemble accommodated the Construction Technical School. Žemaičiai Art Museum started operating in the Oginskiai Manor in 1994.