A striking example of Belgian architectural heritage in Lysychansk (late 19th century), one of the best schools in Ukraine.
The year 2017. The Lysychansk city in the Luhansk region is in the top five of the competition held annually with the support of the King of Belgium Foundation. The city receives the Belgian Heritage Abroad Award 2017.
Let’s travel 150 years into the past. In the second half of the XIX century, the lands of the modern day Ukrainian East, full of endless natural resources, cheap labour, and high-income potential, became extremely attractive to European free capital — including German, French, British, and Belgian. The latter was represented by the engineer and entrepreneur Ernest Solvay, who decided to construct a soda factory in 1889 and a residential complex for employees and workers designed by architects from Belgium.
In the settlement, there was an administrative plant building, house for a director, hospital and chapel, a school for children of workers, a canteen sometimes serving as a theatre, 300 apartments for workers with families, and 3 barracks for bachelors. One of these barracks later became a building of the Lysychansk gymnasium.
In fact, this place has almost never been a barrack. It was built in 1895, and in the early XX century, a women’s gymnasium of the ‘Prosvita’ cultural and educational organization was opened here for the children of the soda plant leadership. It was a three-storey stone building with the walls made of local sandstone. The corners, cornices, window and door frames were made of red ceramic bricks.
During the Ukrainian Revolution in 1917–1921, there was a military hospital. In 1923, the building was used for educational purposes of the plant, and in 1977 the Lysychansk multidisciplinary gymnasium opened here.
The gymnasium soon became one of the best educational institutions in the Luhansk region and was among the best 100 schools in Ukraine. Its pupils were driven by a strong ambition to enter the best higher education institutions in Ukraine.
The building withstood two World Wars, the battle for the city during armed aggression by the Russian Federation in Donbas in 2014. However, it was destroyed during the Russian attack in 2022. On May 1, a fire broke out in the gymnasium because of targeted Russian shelling. The fire completely destroyed the century-old architectural monument. This place used to be full of memories of the rapid evolution of the industrial society in Europe between the late XIX and early XX centuries and the dreams and hopes of its students, their parents and teachers in the XXI century.
Whatever stored the memories has now become a memory itself.
The former building of Luhansk City Council and Administration, erected in the 1880s. It housed the Museum of History and Culture with 50 thousand exhibits and a library with the collection of 12 thousand books.
Former building of the Chemists’ Club’s cinema, constructed in the middle of the 20th century. Over time, it housed Luhansk Drama Theatre, which history began in the times of World War II. In 2014, the company was forced to relocate from Luhansk occupied by Russia.
The stone church of the beginning of the XX century is one of the symbols of the town of Popasna.