History

The following excerpts of the text we included on our website thanks to the courtesy of the son of the builders of ‘Szwarcowka’, Mr Adam Schwarz - Czarnowski. Adam Schwarz - Czarnowski - journalist, photographer, excursionist, collector, author of books, editor of various journals, social activist, Honorary Member of the Polish Tourist and Sightseeing Society and the Warsaw Collectors' Club, Honorary Photographer of Polish Country, Honorary Guide of Mountain Tourism, decorated with numerous state medals and awards from various ministries and organization.

“SZWARCÓWKA” AND SURROUNDINGS

It is located at the beginning of Zazamcze next to the road to Żegiestów, it’s address: 1 Lipowa Street. Along the road runs a railway track, behind which flows the Poprad river, then the Sucha Góra (Dry Mountain) rises on the south and the Wielka Polana (Great Glade) further up. Szczwnik stream, Poprad’s tributary, flows at the foot of the Baszta (Bastion), on the eastern side of ‘Szwarcówka’. The slope of Mount Mikowa descends from the west, and the view on Kotylniczy Wierch and Jaworzyna Krynicka opens to the north. This is the topography of the nearest surroundings of the house. Today, however, their appearance is quite different than in the years when ‘Szwarcówka’ was being built. The house was constructed in 1927/28 by my parents: father, the professor, forester engineer Adam Schwarz and mother, Maria née Krajewska. They both became enthralled with Muszyna, spending there a few preceding summer seasons. The part of Zazamcze, under the blossoming meadows of Mikowa, was at that time a beautiful, quiet backwater, interspersed with old buildings of granary, barn and forester’s lodge. The house was to serve as a family haven for holidays, and later on for retirement years. A plot of land with an area of 2,960 sq. m was purchased from the county. Covered with stone and alder shrubs it was positioned partly on the edge of the floodplain of the Szczawnik Valley. The road leading from the town on the north, through the long bridge on Szczawnik, to Żegiestów (later it course was changed) was bordering the plot.

The building was erected on deep foundations with partially exposed underpinning. It has a basement, a ground plan of 16.5m x 11,5m, two-story, in the style of Podhale region. Elevations from the side of Baszta and Poprad have porches with verandas supported on columns; the verandas are also on the first floor, from which one can enjoy a wide view of the surrounding mountains. The roof is gabled, with pediments, covered with red tiles. The house is built of wood, with bottom part made of larch beams, sealed with moss. The purchase of wood, as well as the plot, was facilitated by father’s friend, forester engineer, Michał Witowski (senior). The building, however, did not have any thermal insulation, neither any permanent heating system, and water had to be pumped into the attic tank. The house builder’s name was Madej and apparently he practiced in Italy. Next to the house, from the side of Mikowa, a small building made of airbricks was erected, the so-called woodshed. A gate for larger deliveries was fitted next to it, initially there was also the main entrance leading to the porch on the side face of the building, featuring the enamelled plate with the number 360 nailed on it.

The property was fenced off with wooden boards, and along them, the hornbeams were planted, trimmed into what became eventually a beautiful hedge. In front of the house from the southern side, there was an earth terrace edged with flowerbeds of mignonettes, pansies and roses. There was also a bright red rose bush climbing up the front wall of the house. The stairs with vases of nasturtium led from the terrace to the spacious, mostly vegetable garden; there were also apple and plum trees, as well as sunflowers. The eastern part of the garden was covered by a lawn, where one could rest on the folding chairs surrounded by the ornamental bushes. Linden and maples were growing at the back with benches and a table under them. There was one more special object near the house: next to the fence, on the side of the railway tracks, a pond was hidden under the willows. The grass snakes lived there and the frogs gave concerts. Thus, the entire nearest and further surroundings were a refuge of nature. In this way a family nest was created, which over time had become quite an exclusive guest house; it was called ‘Pod Basztą’ (Under the Bastion), but colloquially adopted name was ‘Szwarcówka’. In the summer, a group of people ‘in positions’ gathered there: professors, engineers, lawyers… A social life was flourishing, and my mother, running the guesthouse, was able to create a carefree, humorous climate. After father’s death in 1934, the guesthouse played quite an important role in the home budget. Four additional dormer rooms with balconies were built. 12 rooms were rented. There were 20-25 people in the season and a dozen or so visitors for dinners. The price of stay in the guesthouse, with four meals a day, ranged from 5 zlotys in 1930 to 8 zlotys in 1939 when the meals became more elaborate. However, the so-called ‘homemade’ dishes prepared by Zosia, the cook, under the watchful eye of my mother, were delighting the most demanding gourmands. Also the bread from the Stern bakery was of an excellent quality as well and cold meats from Wójcik’s butcher’s shop. Other products were bought from another Wójcik – Władysław – at the Market Square. Everything was on credit, written in books, repaid monthly. An indispensable supplement to the menu was the Milusia mineral water, brought from the spring at Zazamcze (that’s how the water from the source located on the road leading to Złockie was commonly called. The proper Milusia was and is in the town).

The guesthouse was staffed with the residents of Zazamcze part of Muszyna. Antoni Wilczyński was irreplaceable. He carried, and then drove, shopping from the town, pumped water into the tank, chopped wood, which was then burned under the stove, sometimes he went out for guests to the station, proud, wearing a kepi with the inscription BASZTA; he also did many other works, including garden cleaning, and in the winter he performed the role of a house guardian. The maids and helpers in the kitchen were: Mania (probably Bukowska), Zosia Wilczyńska and a few others alternately, ‘court servants’, while the carters included: Tyliszczak, Bukowski, Wójcik, with their own small carts, and then comfortable carriages; they took courses to the baths, to the railway station, to the church, and sometimes they made trips to the surrounding valleys, to Krynica, to Żegiestów.

Beautiful, sunny summer seasons of 1938 and 1939 were the pinnacle of the Pod Basztą, that is the popular Szwarcowka guesthouse activity; they remain in the memory as a carefree, unique ‘pre-war era’. During the war, the house was occupied as accommodation for German soldiers, resting out of the front lines. At that time I occasionally visited Muszyna, and my mother lived there constantly. Thanks to her energy and knowledge of German, the building has not suffered. Mother died in 1945. Together with my family, I was still visiting ‘Pod Basztą’ for several years. However, a considerable distance from Warsaw, where along with my wife we laboured intensively, prevented proper care of the Muszyna house. Initially, we rented it, and in the autumn of 1957 we sold it to Krystyna Ziobrowska from Tarnów, who renovated and rented rooms.

In my youth I came to Muszyna annually, later I was there ever more rarely. “Szwarcówka” was not only a place of residence, but also a fantastic base for amateur and then professional penetrations around the Poprad valley; I also used it when I was leading tours to Beskid Sądecki. During all these years I had witnessed the changes that took place around the house, as well as in the neighbourhood; to a large part I managed to capture them in photographs.

Adam Schwarz-Czarnowski