Farmer spends seven years lovingly restoring crumbling old Czartoryski palace after ‘feeling sorry’ for it
A farmer who fell in love with a crumbling old palace after passing it everyday on his way to work is now set to open it as a luxury hotel spa after spending nearly a decade on loving restoration.
Originally built for Baron von Zedlitz, the wealthy owner of the village of Lubiechowa in the mid-18th century, between 1837 and 1841 the palace belonged to Adam Czartoryski, the statesman, diplomat and author who advocated for the reestablishment of a sovereign Polish state.
Passed on to various different owners, before WWII it served as a centre for mothers and children and after the war, a holiday home owned by Polish State Railways.
In 1962 a major renovation was carried out with the view of transforming the building into a vacation retreat, however it was this restoration which precipitated the Palace’s disintegration, as during it, the Palace was significantly looted of its valuables and many historic elements were irrevocably destroyed.
Following the abandonment of plans for a vacation retreat, the Palace lay disused for 20 years and the historic building was the victim of further looting and ruin.
That was until crop farmer Józef Żałobniak, whose agricultural land is situated right next to the palace, 85km west of Wrocław, stepped in.
The 59-year-old told TFN: “I had grown attached to the building and I felt sorry for it. Whenever I drove past, I felt sorry that such a beautiful historic building was deteriorating.
“I wanted to save it for other people to enjoy. That was my dream.”
When in 2013 the Local County office put the Palace up for sale at 500,000 PLN, at a much reduced price from its earlier asking price of 2 million PLN, Żałobniak jumped at the opportunity to rescue it.
Working together with the help of specialist builders, but doing a lot of the work himself, including disposing of rubble, Żałobniak devoted each late autumn and winter when he wasn’t working on his land, to working on the Palace.
He was helped in managing the work by his wife Wanda who was on hand to advise, choose elements of the interior design and supervise construction workers.
He told TFN: “When I first acquired the building, it was in real danger of collapse. Almost nothing of the original elements of the Palace remained apart from the roof, one room, basement and the staircase, which I had to restore and retain in its original form.
“It was a crumbling wreck, with a tree growing out of it. I didn’t find anything inside, because it was completely bare, everything of any value had been looted, even the smallest details.”
The Palace also includes 4 hectares of gardens which Żałobniak has not yet finished and which are the next and final stage of his renovation.
His plan is to restore the original English style gardens, complete with avenues, bridges and the lake with fountain at the centre of the garden.
But for now, the Palace interior is already done and ready to serve others as a Hotel and Spa, with a planned opening set for the 26th April 2021.
“I want people to see the building and feel happy spending time here.”