Aukštoji Panemunė Kurhaus in Kaunas

Address: Kauno m. sav., Kauno m., Panemunės r.

When the Ministry of the Interior announced the list of Lithuanian resorts and the rules for their public administration in 1933, Aukštoji Panemunė was amongst them. J. Basanavičius pinewood, located between Naujoji Panemunė, Nemunas, Vičiūnai settlement and Raudonasis Kryžius Street, new symbolic centre of the prestigious summer resort. The southern part of the park saw the emergence of health and rehabilitation sanatoriums, as well as recreational buildings.

That same year Lietuvos Aidas newspaper wrote about the resort: “Several years ago all Kaunas residents were headed to Vytautas Park, Ąžuolynas and Mickevičius Valley for their Sunday outings. Only occasionally small groups would leave Kaunas and head to Panemunė pinewood. Over time Ąžuolynas and Mickevičius Valley began losing their popularity. Seekers of fresh air and peaceful surroundings started gathering at the pinewood named after Basanavičius at Panemunė, which became known as the summer resort. Areas that were not occupied by vacationers, would become flooded with visitors from cities and suburbs during weekends, which made drier and more suitable areas of Panemunė pinewood look more like a loud, beautiful and fun “folks hangout””.

In the spring of 1935, Kaunas City Municipality decided to build Panemunė Kurhaus in J. Basanavičius Park. For this purpose, Panemunė state forest enterprise leased out a 1.5 ha property near Gegučių Alley, where within several months, according to a draft of one of the most prominent interwar architects Stasys Kudokas, a wooden one-story kurhaus was built, intended to be used as a sports centre during winter, primarily by skiers. It had the so-called “summer (dance) hall”, next to it there were four heated rooms, a buffet and a large porch.

The remaining iconographic materials and the draft of kurhaus facade provide an example of rather simple and modest resort architecture. Two-size premises were very bright, surrounded by high and low window galleries (cut up into rectangular segments), perfectly matching other elements of the building and creating a playfully effortless rhythm. The most outstanding element of the kurhaus was the “folk style” ledge above the two main doors leading from the summerhouse to the terrace with the wooden fence. 

The construction of the kurhaus cost 52,100 litas. The opening ceremony of the kurhaus took place on 29 September 1935. It was attended by more than a hundred guests, amongst which were the Minister of Internal Affairs Gen. J. Čaplikas, City Mayor A. Merkys, Head of the Medicine and Sanitation Department of the Municipality Dr. K. Grinius, as well as other officials.

Unfortunately, during the Soviet period the kurhaus was abandoned and died out. The foundations of the summerhouse are currently owned by the Director of a charity and support fund G. Labanauskas who has been promoting the idea of rebuilding the kurhaus and opening a day care centre for children and elders since 2008. His efforts have not been heard yet. We can only guess if this nice idea will ever take form and bring us closer to the recreational spirit of Aukštoji Panemunė that was once present here.

Viltė Migonytė