People’s House
People’s House
Okhtyrka, Sumy region People’s House

Center of cultural and educational life of the city of Okhtyrka from the beginning of XX century.

Okhtyrka, Sumy region
Official status:
Architectural Monument of local significance
House/Palace of Culture
Date of destruction:
March 2022

Before March 8, 2022. Photo: Wikipedia

The abolition of serfdom became a remarkable event for Ukrainian society in the 19th century because freedom is one of the most essential values ​​of human civilization. Freedom is honoured everywhere: in the main squares of capitals and small villages. One of the symbolic monuments to the liberation of peasants was the People’s House in the town of Okhtyrka in the Sumy region.
It was built between 1911 and 1914 and timed for the 50th anniversary of the abolition of serfdom in the Russian Empire, which at that time included most of the modern Ukrainian territories. Serf peasants were ‘tied’ to the land and landowners until 1861 and forced to work hard.
In the early 1890s, the Community of Public Readings conceived the idea of building the People’s House. At the beginning of 1911, the town residents collected the necessary funds. Finally, the construction plan designed by engineer and architect Vasyl Yakovlev was ultimately approved. And in three years, a new building in the Empire style was erected in the centre of Okhtyrka. However, the People’s House did not become an educational and cultural centre right away. The First World War began, and a hospital was placed within its walls.

After March 8, 2022. Photo:

Only in the early 1920s did political and cultural life in the People’s House recover. In 1922, a choir and a drama group emerged in Okhtyrka, giving rise to its first theatre. Famous Ukrainian actors such as Amvrosii Buchma and Natalia Uzhvii, as well as an outstanding Ukrainian writer Ivan Bahrianyi, were engaged in the theatre activities. The Association of Democratic Ukrainian Youth in Chicago nominated the latter for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Bahrianyi’s works about the Gulag labour camp, ‘Garden of Gethsemane’ and ‘The Hunters and the Hunted’ were published 20 years before ‘The Gulag Archipelago’ by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was written. In 1932, the People’s House became the District House of Culture and retained this name and status till nowadays.
On the night of March 8, 2022, during a large-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russian troops dropped bombs on the centre of Okhtyrka. Along with the building of the City Council and museum, the House of Culture was destroyed. For decades, this place united townspeople and was a hub of creative freedom, paving the way for the establishment of the People’s House.
The site that once held memories may now turn into a memory itself.

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