Mykolas Oginskis Palace
Plungė manor homestead occupies 58.3 ha of the park area. There are ten monumental buildings which survived. The axis for the arrangement of the homestead was the neo-renaissance palace with two officines (servants’ houses) and neo-gothic stud farm.
Although the governors of Plungė manor kept changing from the 16th century, this landholding remained an important residence of aristocrats, clergymen, talented culture and art creators until the early 20th century. Plungė and all landholdings were sold to count Platon Zubov in 1806. In 1873, the Zubov family sold the manor to the duke Mykolas Oginskis. The duke built the current-day manor in the northern part of the park. The building was designed by a German architect Karl Lorenz. The manor was solemnly blessed in 1879. The central building was built in a neo-renaissance style which was in fashion at the time. From then on Plungė Manor had its heyday.
Continuing musical traditions of the Oginskiai family, the duke established an orchestra school in the manor where the famous Lithuanian painter and composer Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis studied.
Mykolas Oginskis Palace is one of the most beautiful architectural monuments of the 19th c. Lithuania. Its particular distinctness lies in sculptures of the antique style which decorate the roof of the palace.
In the period from 2012–2015, the interior of the palace was restored with the support of the EU Structural Funds.
The western (left side) officine (servants’ house) was used as a guest house during the Oginskiai period. Nursemaids-nuns also used to live there. They worked in the orphanage which was maintained by the Oginskiai family. In 1883, a two-year Lithuanian school was opened, and the year 1903 saw the opening of Ms. M. Oginskienė’s daraktoriai (village teachers) school. Next to this building, on the lawn, there was a big insulated orangerie and the Oginskiai family chapel.
The eastern (right side) officine was intended for the administration of the manor. This is where an accountant worked. There was also a kitchen in this building.
It is a neo-gothic style building in which different breeds of horses were raised, in particular, the Little Samogitian Horse (Žemaitukas) breed was fostered. The chief stableman took care of horses along with his two assistants. There was a coach-house and a drill-hall here.
During the period of Lithuania’s independence, there was an agricultural school in the manor which renewed the stud farm and raised Žemaitukas horses.
Today, the former stud farm is used to organise international Mykolas Oginskis classical music festivals.
CLOCK TOWER AND ORANGERIE
It is the oldest surviving building of the manor and the oldest masonry building in Plungė: one of the stones of the masonry foundations bears the date of the building – 1846. The tower itself is a miniature copy of the Palazzo Vecchio palace in Florence, the architect is unknown. Mykolas Oginskis used the Zubov’s castle clock tower and orangerie which stood in the park as an accommodation for the gardener and an orangerie. The first floor would accommodate the gardener, and the second floor – the clockmaker who supervised the clock of the tower with a unique anchor escapement.
In 2012, the tower and the clock inside were restored and a public library of Plungė district municipality was established.
Apart from the aforementioned buildings, several other structures which constituted the manor ensemble survived.
The central monumental park gates of the neo-renaissance style were built in 1879. They are decorated with the 16th c. sculptures of knights, and the top of the gate is decorated with bears holding the shields with the coat of arms of Oginskiai on them. The ensemble of the gates also includes a former park guard’s house which now accommodates Plungė tourism information centre. The western part of the park still has a pheasant grower’s house, where Andzhej Kotoviak lived who looked after the fauna of the park. Nearby this building, there are red brick auxiliary gates installed.
To date, the park territory features the so-called laundry house which was used for the needs of the manor. It is found on the present-day street of Darius ir Girėnas.
At the end of Laisvės Avenue, the duchess Marija Oginskienė’s lawyer’s (Skladovski) house, which was built in 1910, can still be found.
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.
Dukes Oginskiai originated from a Russian family which lived in the Smolensk territory. It settled in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania at the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century. One of the hypotheses set forth in genealogical encyclopaedia claims that the name of Oginskiai originated from the possessions of Uogintai (not far from present-day Kaunas) assigned to the representative of this family Dimitrij Ivanovich Hlushonok by the Lithuanian Grand Duke Alexander. During its life cycle this family left a pronounced footprint in Lithuania’s history. From the 16th century to the end of the state’s existence (1795), the members of this family held the following official titles: a chancellor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a Grand Marshal and a treasurer, there were three hetmans, nine governors of districts (voivodes), ten castellans, five chairmen of the Lithuanian Supreme Tribunal, and two composers in the family. Later, the representatives of this family were known as sponsors of music, science and the implementers of technical innovations.
Although the family of Oginskiai had some landholdings in Samogitia (Žemaitija) and the central territories of the present-day Lithuania as early as in the 16th century, the largest complexes of their possessions were formed in the eastern part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (the districts of Vilnius, Minsk and Vitebsk) by the end of the 18th century only. At the beginning of the 19th century, the most important representatives of the noble branch of Oginskiai moved their residence to Rietavas. After Mykolas Kleopas Oginskis, who was disappointed with the tsarist policy, moved to Italy, his wife Marija Oginskienė (de Neri) saw the Manor of Rietavas legitimised as a private possession of Oginskiai. Soon afterwards their son Irenėjus Kleopas Oginskis (1808–1963) established a modern residential manor which was inherited by his eldest son Bogdanas Mykolas Juozapas Pranciškus (1848–1909). His youngest brother Mykolas Mikalojus Severinas Markas (1949–1902) refused to live in the inherited manor of the grandfather, namely, the composer M. K. Oginskis, in Zalese (Ašmena county). Having purchased landholdings in Plungė, he married a countess of Drogosław II from Chernyaev (the then Prussian territory) Marija Teresa Kaspara Skórzewska (1857–1945) in 1876 and soon had a residence built here which was no less luxurious and supplied with artistic and cultural valuables as well as technical developments than his native Rietavas. Unfortunately, the two brothers had no children, for this reason, the continuity of the Oginskiai family faded with them. The duke M. M. Oginskis died in a resort of South France, Nice, and was buried in Rietavas, in Aušros Vartai chapel-mausoleum of the Oginskiai family. The duchess M. Oginskienė died in Poznan (Poland), her grave is unknown.
Sigito Kazlausko nuotr