Sokołowsko - history

History of Dr. Brehmer’s Sanatorium

The first mention about Sokołowsko appeared In 1357. The village was probably set by Benedictine monks of Broumově. Until the end of 15th century, Sokołowsko had several owners.

In 1509, Sokołowsko together with the south part of Duchy of Świdnica was bought by count von Hochberg who set his family siege in Książ. Until the middle of 19th century, Sokołowsko wasn’t different from other villages owned by Hochbergs. It changed in 1849, when countess von Colomb arrived at the village. Enchanted by the landscape of Sokołowsko, she encouraged her brother-in-law, Dr. Hermann Brehmer to open a health resort based on Vincent Priessnitz's idea of Nature Cure (hydrotherapetic techniques).

In 1855, the world first specialised sanatorium of tuberculosis using an innovative method of climatic and dietetic cures was opened in Sokołowsko. On the pattern of sanatorium of Sokołowsko, the sanatorium in Davos was opened. Later, people would call Sokołowsko „silesian Davos”, even if it was Davos that should have been called „swiss Sokołowsko”. Prof. Alfred Sokołowski became a close co-worker of Dr. Brehmer. The village was called after him to commemorate his merits. The health resort in Sokołowsko was quite expensive, but very well organized – before 1888, there had already been a post office and the dial-up connection. It hosted 730 patients in 1887. The stay of Dr. Tytus Chałubiński was an inspiration to his interest in Zakopane: he had been searching for the similar village where he could set such a sanatorium of tuberculosis in Poland.

After the World War II, a sanatorium of tuberculosis still existed in Sokołowsko. Under the pressure of Dr. Stanisław Domino, the profile of given cures was changed to the treatment of respiratory diseases. In the 70. (20. century), the village had been gradually rendered a centre of winter sports: the Regional Center of Winter Sports was to be created there. Not everything was implemented because of lack of financial means. Only some cross-country routes ( rendered a part of Bieg Gwarków) remained at place. In recent years, the health resort has been regressing because of the economic crisis. After the World War II, it was only at the beginning of the 21. century when Sokołowsko acquired the status of the village.

In 2007, In Situ Contemporary Art Foundation bought the premises of the former Dr. Brehmer's Sanatorium and creates in its place an International Laboratory of Culture. The history of this place begins once more.

Nowadays and plans for the future

The conception of reconstruction and revitalization of ruins of Dr. Brehmer’s Sanatorium in Sokołowsko (Lower Silesia) and establishing the independent contemporary multifunction Laboratory of Culture are the main goals of the Foundation.

A vision of creating a new place has been based on the rich international history of Sokołowsko and the architectural complex we’ve just described. It is also worth mentioning that the former Dr. Brehmer’s Sanatorium is located on the path of Sudety Wałbrzyskie Landscape Park.

The building is entered In the Registration of Monuments with the number 1888 and it was constructed In the second part of 19th century. The initiative of Dr. Brehmer was to establish a professional health resort for patients with respiratory diseases, offering medical and tourist advantages. Soon after its opening it became extraordinarily popular in the whole of Europe, as we can notice from numerous guides of Görbersdorf published not only in Germany, but also in Budapest, Zurich, Paris, Vienna, Warsaw or Petersburg. The premises comprise the Sanatorium, the former Brehmer’s Sanatorium from 19th century and 6 ha of park and it was excluded from the sanatorium complex of Mieroszów commune after the war. Since 50., it is subject to gradual degradation. In 2005, due to the fire, the majority of the building was destroyed, the whole roof included. Nowadays, the technical condition of the complex is described by the regional conservator as a construction disaster.

The priority of the planned cultural investment is to prepare and collect the documents needed to impede the degradation of the building and to save it from the complete destruction. Refinancing of this stage of the planned investment is to serve its next stage, namely the reconstruction of the building maintaining its historical value and its premises. In the long term, the building is going to be adapted to its new function of an international Laboratory of Culture. So far, thanks to the In Situ Contemporary Art Foundation efforts (co-financing of Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland, of voivodship of Lower Silesia and from own means – including the 1% of the taxes campaign – donations of private people and local companies) we managed to:

  • Accomplish the first stage of safeguarding the most endangered part of the building, collect documents of the project, realize the expertise and the estimation of costs, remove debris, stabilize the walls, mount ceilings and dry the building
  • Do cleaning works
  • Initiate and establish the Honorary Commitee that is to support the reconstruction of the building and the establishment of the Laboratory of Culture in Sokołowsko – the invitation was accepted by, among others, Józef Robakowski (artist), Natalia Lach-Lachowicz (artist), Michał Lorenc (composer of film music), Marek Kondrat (actor), Krystyna Janda (actress, director of Polonia Theatre)

In 2008:

  • Continuation of cleaning works of the building and of the park, including the second stage of safeguarding the most endangered part of the building
  • Preparation and development of the informational and promoting company concerning the reconstruction of the building in Poland and abroad, initation and development of subsequent stages of cooperation with partners in international and national projects
  • Accomplishment of the educational project – summer workshops with youngsters vulnerable to the social exclusion from Mieroszów and Katowice
  • Endeavoring to obtain financial means for the third stage of safeguarding the building and renovation works
  • Launching the website devoted to the laboratory of Sokołowsko

The subsequent plans of the Foundation are as follows:

  • mounting the deficient ceilings on II and III floor
  • mounting the steel constructions
  • roofing
  • renovation of the observation tower together with the terrace and making it accessible to visitors in Spring and Summer
  • cleaning works in the vicinities of the building
  • realizing some cultural, educational or artistic outdoor projects in Spring and Summer