Calm countryside, ... modernist village!
The interwar period was associated with the worship of the city. Skyscrapers, cars, factories and rushing modernity rising up - this picture emerges most often. The development of the village at this time is rare. However, modernization did not bypass the countryside. An interesting example is the small village of Lisków near Kalisz. In the theater of the successes of the Second Polish Republic, it had the spectacular role of a model modernist village.

The history of Lisków begins at the 20th century. At its threshold, Lisków was a poor, indistinguishable village in the Turkish poviat, with its own parish and a wooden eighteenth-century church. In 1900, priest Wacław Bliziński took over the parish in Lisków. He recalled what he found there: "Those who could read, it was usually only 13% [...] The village presented itself very poorly, because out of 100 poor cottages only one was made of brick ... and the worst cottage was a single-class primary school. Father Bliziński, in his first sermon to the inhabitants of Lisków, which he delivered on the feast of the Magi on January 6, 1900, announced that he would like to favor them "heaven and bread". These words became his motto, which he consistently implemented. And he began very practically - with bread, building the foundations of cooperative activity in Lisków. He founded food cooperatives and cooperative stores. The First World War stopped the development of cooperative activity in Lisków, but after Poland regained independence, interrupted initiatives were taken back. The infrastructure was also intensively developed. In 1919, a construction company was established whose task was to organize the construction of public facilities in Lisków.

The dynamic development of the town meant that even before the First War, Lisków was the destination of trips from around the country that visited village to admire efficiently organized cooperatives and modern methods of animal husbandry and plant cultivation. Two exhibitions were organized in Lisków on the wave of this interest. In 1925 the Polish Countryside exhibition took place, and more than a decade later, in 1937, Work and village culture. Lisków permanently entered the history of Polish cooperative activity. The memory of Father Bliziński's heritage is alive in Lisków, where festivities are held on the anniversary of the exhibition from 1937.

Father Wacław Bliziński gained the opinion of a bold and dart man during his studies at the seminar in Włocławek. Secretly before the authorities, he edited the humorous weekly "Mirror", distributed among selected students and superiors. He derived patriotic traditions in the Enlightenment edition from his family home - with great respect for work.

As part of his activities, Bliziński undertook various types of initiatives in Lisków. Their goal was to involve various socio-economic groups: breeders and farmers, but also women and young people. A craft school operated in Lisków, in which many studios were run, including a toy workshop.

Along with the development of the village in Lisków, the health needs of residents were also taken care of. In 1911 a bathing house and orphanage were opened, and in 1913 a care home for the disabled and the elderly. In the interwar years, a dental office operated in Lisków.

Dairy cooperative founded in 1911 was a real success and pride of Lisków. It has become a model example of cooperative activity. It was conducted according to modern guidelines: a zootechnician instructor was employed who took care of breeding matters, and was also invested in modern infrastructure. Thanks to this, in the late 1930s, the cooperative had 2,766 members, had 17 branches and delivered over 2.8 million liters of milk per year.

The intensive development of the dairy made it obtain a new headquarters in the interwar period. The building in the Vistula style was commissioned in 1926, and the author of the design was the unknown engineer Mokrzyński. The building is part of the style binding in the mid-twenties, referring to nineteenth-century noble houses, but in a modernized version.

The most interesting building in Liskow is the orphanage of St. Wacław. This brings to mind the ship style and luxury hotels and spas of the late 1930s (e.g. the New Spa House in Krynica).

The 1937 exhibition in Lisków was a great event. It took place between June 8 and July 4, in the summer season. It was also a good opportunity to relax and have a good time.

The exhibition was organized primarily to show visitors achievements in the field of agriculture and animal husbandry technology, but there was also an artistic program, including performances of folk children's bands, or national accents such as the maritime and colonial league pavilions or the air and gas defense league.

The significance of the event, which was the 1937 exhibition, is evidenced by the fact that it was visited by representatives of the highest state authorities: President Ignacy Mościcki, Prime Minister Felicjan Sławoj-Składkowski, Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły. Photos from the opening of the exhibition, in order from left to right: Prime Minister General Felicjan Sławoj-Składkowski cuts the ribbon, President Ignacy Mościcki welcomed by residents in national costumes, Marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigły takes the parade.

More about architecture and urban planning after the First World War can be read in the publication Architecture of Independence in Central Europe available in the ICC online bookstore.

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