THE WHITE PALACE OF VECGULBENE MANOR - ITS BUILDERS, ARCHITECTS AND FORTUNES (Vecgulbenes muizas Balta pils: celeji, arhitektura un likteni)
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Vecgulbene (Alt-Schwanenburg) manor is situated in Gulbene District within the territory of the town of Gulbene, which has been a crossroads since ancient times. The manor is known as one of the most prominent and splendid ensembles in Latvia and possibly in the Baltic region. This place suffered considerably during the wars and the Soviet period. Construction and reconstruction of the so-called White Palace at 12 Brivibas Street has been dated differently by various sources. First it was stated that the central part had already been built in 1763 and reconstructed in 1840s-1870s. Art historian Dainis Brugis holds that the Palace was built around 1840, which seems to be a more plausible version; construction was carried out by the Wolff family, possibly by Rudolf Gottlieb Magnus von Wolff (1809-1847) and entries in his daughter Isabella's diary attest to this. Rudolf von Wolff had traveled to many countries including Italy. The style of Italian villas evident in the White Palace surely comes from Rudolf's taste and interests. The Palace was inherited by Rudolf's son Johann Heinrich Gottlieb von Wolff (1843-1897) who reconstructed and enlarged the building in the last quarter of the 19th century. The architecture of the Palace was influenced by the Renaissance. The project resembles the Renaissance villas found among Andrea Palladio's works. The central two-storey block was almost cube-shaped and flanked by single storey wings at both ends. The façades were lavishly decorated. The central volume featured wide, fluted colossal order pilasters; triangle-shaped, plastic frontons were placed over the ground floor window openings.
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