JOHANN DANIEL FELSKO AND RECONSTRUCTION OF THE SMALL GUILD HALL IN RIGA (Johans Daniels Felsko un Mazas gildes parbuve Riga)
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The basic publications on the Riga Small Guild (or St. John's Guild) so far have not considered the different versions of the reconstruction project offered by the architect in the 1860s. However, the history of the Small Guild published in 1902 says that City Architect (Stadt-Architekt) Johann Daniel Felsko (1813-1902) had repeatedly prepared three such projects. An unrealised project, intended to supplement the old building of the artisans' guild with Neo-Gothic decoration, has survived from 1858. Small Guild members wanted more spacious premises and even considered choosing a construction site on Riga's ring of boulevards. In spring 1862, the Small Guild Building Commission invited Stadt-Architekt Johann Daniel Felsko to provide an estimate for a new building on the historical site of the Small Guild Hall. In spring of 1862 Felsko submitted a particularly splendid Neo-Gothic project. It envisaged a monolithic three-storey building with a prolonged, rectangular basic planning. The main entrance portal was placed in the longitudinal facade. Felsko's decorative finish for the second project is much simpler. Events took a turn in spring 1864. Felsko was still working on his third project but at the same time he signed agreements with particular groups of craftsmen on the construction works of the Small Guild's new building. The project was approved on 3 March 1864. The third project was realised without significant alterations. Examining the project, one discovers the compromise between the architect's respect for the requirements of the commission and his opponents while retaining his initial conception as far as possible. The decades after the consecration of the building have proved that architect Felsko's initial solution had been farsighted. Unfortunately, the financial situation and opposition's stance stopped its realisation. But the completed building became too small and competitions for its enlargement had to be organised again. Unfortunately 20th century wars wrecked these plans and the guild halls retained their 19th century appearance.
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