The Mansion of St. Anthony of Padua

Coordinates: 55.893234 21.243609

Object address: Vilniaus street 6, Kretinga, Lithuania

Municipality: Kretinga district

The Mansion of St. Anthony of Padua is located among the 2nd city cemetery, the Lourdes, and the Pastauninkas River. Depending on the times, it was referred to as: The House of St. Anthony of Padua, the American Mansion, The College, Institute and Gymnasium of St. Anthony of Padua.
The red clay brick building is characterised by monumental symmetry. It is two floors high, has a three-floor high side avant-corps and a plinth floor.

The commemoration of the 700th death anniversary of Anthony of Padua was held in 1931. Considering the Saint’s great desire to be a missionary, the Kretinga Franciscan monks decided to build a monument in honour of St. Anthony of Padua – an educational institution to train missionaries.

In 1932, a gymnasium for boys and a dormitory was built, which was named the St. Anthony of Padua Missions College. The Lithuanians in exodus were funding the construction of the gymnasium. The Franciscan monks responded to this gesture of kindness by establishing a modern shelter for the elderly, who have returned from the exodus.

The construction of the shelter started in 1933 and on November 11th, 1934 the shelter was consecrated and ceremoniously opened to the public as the The Mansion of St. Anthony of Padua. It was the biggest and most modern shelter in Lithuania.

The hall was located on the first floor. It primarily served the purposes of the students, but it was also available to the inhabitants of the town. For instance, popular films, starring well-known actors of the time, were screened in this very location. The hall was an important focal point of the city’s culture. A modern printing and book binding house was set up at the end of the opposite side of the building.

In 1940, the building was nationalised and the Border Military Headquarters of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs were established in this building. Guardrooms were set up in the basement and on the first floor. Lithuanian freedom fighters were imprisoned and tortured here.

The building was rebuilt in 1989. During the renovation, the builders found various prisoner writings, written in many languages, under the layer of plaster.

On June 22nd, 1941, The Mansion of the St. Anthony of Padua became the home of the Hitler Civil Regional Administration. Once again, the basement became a prison, but this time it was for Soviet activists, who were not able to escape Germany’s occupation, and for individuals of Jewish descent.

For several years after the war, the House of St. Anthony of Padua was where the military garrison was stationed. The basement continued to serve as a guardroom. It was believed that misbehaving soldiers were kept there instead of political prisoners.

Until 1970, The Mansion of St. Anthony of Padua served the community of Kretinga as a house of culture. Public events, such as concerts, took place in the hall of the mansion. Moreover, the mansion was the location of the Audra Cinema. The upper floors of the mansion housed the Kretinga regional government, namely the municipal and regional parties and state institutions.

When Lithuania re-established its independence in 1990, The Mansion of St. Anthony of Padua was where the first democratically elected council of Kretinga resided.

In 1991, the first and third floors of the mansion were returned to the Franciscan monks, where they have established the Kretinga Girls Catholic College. From 1995 to 2005, the St. Anthony of Padua Institute of Religious Studies under the Vytautas Magnus University Catholic Theology Faculty was housed here.

The building stood unused for several years. In 2009, the House of St. Anthony of Padua became the location of the Franciscan gymnasium.

The Mansion of St. Anthony of Padua bears architectural, historical, and memorial value and it is a state-protected cultural heritage. The mansion is now a part of the complex of buildings of the Kretinga Bernardine Monastery and the Church of the Lord’s Revelation to Virgin Mary.

SourceKretingos enciklopedija

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