An extraordinary building of the early 20th century in the architectural ensemble of the Constitution Square in Kharkiv built in the Art Nouveau and Neoclassicism styles.
The Palace of Labour is an extraordinary building in the architectural ensemble of the Constitution Square and an unusual urban project of the early 20th century. It was a six-storey house with rounded corners and three courtyards serving as a transit between Pavlivska Square, Kvitka-Osnovianenko Street, and Constitution Square.
The house was built in 1916 as a rental house for the Insurance Company. Incidentally, the ground floor with retail space and the other 5 residential ones were equally profitable. The six- and eight-room apartments were leased for huge money compared to the European real estate market.
Hyppolite Prétreaus, specialising in modern architecture, became an architect of the future Palace of Labour. He combined Art Nouveau with Neoclassicism in the design of the rental house. The artist decided to decorate the central facade with six single statues and the upper one with a sculpture group of protectresses with a shield.
Having seized power in Ukraine, the Bolshevists declared the Palace of Labour state property. After that, various Soviet institutions such as the All-Ukrainian Council of Trade Unions and the People’s Commissariat of Labour were located here. Due to these events, the modern name ‘Palace of Labour’ came up and later became official.
In the 1930s, the time of bloody Stalinist terror came, when the Soviet authorities systematically exterminated the intelligentsia of Ukraine and the Soviet Union because they saw every conscious person as a threat to the totalitarian regime. Stalinist repressions didn’t bypass the architect Prétreaus — so his fate was tragic as the Soviet authorities executed him in 1937. Nevertheless, his creation continued its existence: The Palace of Labour withstood both the Red Soviet Terror and the Nazi German occupation.
However, during Russia’s cruel war against Ukraine in the spring of 2022, the enemy air strike wrecked Constitution Square damaging the facades, windows, and roof of the Palace of Labour. Descendants of those who killed the architect Prétreaus decided to destroy his architectural heritage, which existed at the intersection of styles and henceforth — at the intersection of the eras that divided the world of the early XXI century into ‘before’ and ‘after’.
Whatever stored the memories may now become a memory itself.
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