A valuable wooden heritage of Kaunas create unique timber buildings located in different parts of Kaunas with exceptional features peculiar just for that area. Žaliakalnis – one of prestigious city parts, known not only for elite people living here in between the wars, but for wooden architecture as well. If you choose this route, you will visit the house of composer Juozas Gruodis, overlook the buildings of a famous traveler Matas Šalčius and other places of interest.
1. J. Zikaras memorial museum (J. Zikaro str. 3)
This house has the features of wooden palaces and ethnic constructions, it belonged to a prominent Lithuanian sculptor Juozui Zikarui (1881-1944). The house of the well- known artist projected in 1932 by technician J. Dubauskas, its construction adapted to houses built on slopes – from the back side two floors constructed, from the facade - one. Later on a laundry with balcony was added to the building and a terrace with a wonderful panorama to Kaunas old town. A basement was equipped with J.Zikaras workshop, an apartment consisted of four joint rooms. Zikaras house was frequently visited by Kaunas elite and artists. In 1999 the preserved J.Zikaras house opened the memorial museum, the most interesting facts about J. Zikaras and his life presented in the educational program “visiting the creator of Freedom sculpture.
2. The house of J. Šileika (Žalioji str. 31)
Since 1928 an oak (or so called owl) hill, has one storied wooden villa which belonged to the painter jonui Šileika with a pent balcony and a porch. The house was changing many times through years, but it is still possible to view general characteristics of the villa: wooden cladding, roof coating, window expansion preserved. A memorial plank with inscription: „From 1928–1960 a painter Jonas Šileika lived in that house “was fixed to the building earlier. Painter’s friends and sculptor J.Zikaras, who lived in the neighborhood, visited that house.
3. The house of A. Gedmantas (Žemuogių str. 2)
The house of the captain of the Lithuanian army, aide of riflemen union Antanas Gedmantas, built in 1927. The first floor had a shop, the second - 4 officer’s family living rooms. This floor was equipped with closed gallery, roof windows were decorated by sun rays motives, many authentic features preserved.
4. The house of I. Jonynas (Rūtų str. 3)
This yellow wooden house of unusual shapes was where Ignas Joninas, a historian, diplomat, and professor, lived from 1927. Though the house was rebuilt several times, the reconstraction of 1928 made it especially attractive. The upper part of the ground floor windows have an unusual trapezoid shape. Vertical and horizontal wainscot paneling and the avant-corps add to its attraction. The eminent historian lived here until 1954, and a plaque commemorating his residence here was dedicated in 1991.
5. The house by J. Indriūnas project (Tulpių g. 21)
The basic structural elements and the memory of the persons who lived here are both preserved in this wooden villa. This one-storeyed wooden house with a half-hip roof, and an attic has many extant interior details, such as a stove, door handles, built-in closets, preserved. Designed by J. Indriunas, a construction technician, and built in 1927, the house belonged to Stasė and Juozas Geniušas, the grandparents of Petras Geniušas, a piano player. Besides the Geniušas family, Adomas Lastas-Lastauskas, a modernist poet, enterpreter, and lawer, lived here.
6. The house of V. Vizgirda (Tulpių g. 4)
This building with a hipped roof constructed in 1930 is a typical two-storeyed rental appartament house of the interwar period. This log house belonged to Mečislovas Štareika. Viktoras Vizgirda, a notable Lithuanian painter, lived here in a three room flat on the first floor in 1937-1940. This is reminded by a commemorative plaque on the wall of the building. The painters works present picturesque Lithuanian (later American) landscapes and portraits of Lithuanian artists and writers abroad.
7. The house of A. Jokimas (Minties rato g. 2)
In 1923 Peter Marius Frandsen, a Danish engineer and architect, and Antanas Jokimas, an engineer, drew a scheme of the layout of Kaunas city. Much was never implemented, but the housing planned in the area in the Zaliakalnis district bounded by K. Petrauskas street, Vydunas lane, and Radvilėnų road did come into being. The area was divided into blocks and built up with detached houses, buildings of rented flats, and villas. One of the most interesting villas in this area belonged to Antanas Jokimas. The house was built in 1925 according to the plan/project of engineer Jonas Andriunas. This is a one-storeyed building with a mansard iron roof, and decorated with a New-Baroque pediment –a representative of the “national style“. The main entrance is in the porch. A small nearby terrace survived. Antanas Jokimas lived in the villa from the time it was built. Feliksas Bielinskis, a former senior architect of Kaunas, lived in the attic in 1940-1966.
8. The house of M. Šalčius (Minties rato g. 53)
Matas Šalčius, a leading traveler, journalist and public figure of Lithuania, lived on the first floor of this one story wooden house for a time. The face of the building is dominated at the center by a two story veranda. The house has a French roof, and the original windows still preserved. The plaque on the wall of the building reminds us that Matas Šalčius lived here in 1925-1936. In 1929 M. Šalčius together with other Lithuanian traveller Antanas Poška started their motorcycle tour through Europe, Egypt, the Near East and India. After his return M. Šalčius published the book „ Svečiuose pas 40 tautų “ (Guest of 40 nations). In 1936, the traveller left Kaunas for the last time intending to travel by bicycle from Tierra del Fuego to Alaska, but he died along the way.
9. The memorial museum of B. Sruoga (B. Sruogos g. 21)
This modernistic wooden building was designed by architect Vladimir Zubov, and belonged to Balys Sruoga, a notable Lithuanian poet, writer, and playwright. Notably, the house was first built in Žemaitija (Lowland/Western Lithuania) on the land holding that belonged to Kazimieras Daugirdas, the father of Vanda Sruogienė. The building was disassembled and the parts transported by train to Kaunas for reconstruction. In 1938 the building was finished and the Sruoga family moved in. It was a cozy one-storeyed dwelling with an attic, verandah and balcony. It was surrounded by a verdant orchard. Artistic and intellectual friends frequently visited the Sruoga family. In 1966, a branch of Kaunas public library and a memorial exposition of Balys Sruoga were established here. Presently, it houses a branch of the Maironis museum of Lithuanian literature. The museum offers educational programes for schoolchildren and adults to preserve the memory and works of B. Sruoga.
10. The memorial museum of J. Grušas (Kalniečių g. 93)
This modestly sized dwelling surrounded by a verdant orchard once belonged to a notable Lithuanian playwright and writer, Juozas Grušas. The house was planned out by the playwright personally in 1936. It is a rectangular in shape one-storeyed building with an attic. The Juozas Grušas memorial museum was established here in 1998. Authentic furniture, tile stoves, the library, and some artwork are displayed throughout the rooms of the house. The surroundings of the Grušas family and the writer‘s works come to life in the museum. Here tours, quiz shows, educational programes for visitors of different ages are offered.
11. The house of K. Sklėrius (Kalniečių g. 105)
The house is reminiscent of dwellings of the beginning of the XXth century. The notable Lithuanian artist, sculptor and pioneering watercolourist Kajetonas Sklėrius lived here from 1929 to 1932. The oblong wooden building is topped by a sheet metal mansard roof. The center of the building accents the mezzanine reminiscent of a tower. The artist is commemorated by a plaque.
12. The memorial museum of J. Gruodis (Salako g. 18)
At the foot of the hill from which a beautiful panorama of Kaunas old town opens, in 1932 a wooden house was built for Juozas Gruozis, a preeminent Lithuanian composer. The designer of this building, a prominent interwar architect, Feliksas Vizbaras, tried to fit in the building to the tree-covered hillside. This explains the juxtaposition of one story and two storey features. In front of the main entrance there is a porch with five wooden columns supporting a balcony. House decorations display elements of Lithuanian folk art. The wooden window art simbolizes the artist‘s keenness for ethnic musical motives. The surrounding orchard was designed by Gruodis and still grows today. A birch tree donated by the compozer‘s student, Julius Juzeliūnas, is among the trees surviving today. In 1974, a memorial museum of Juozas Gruodis was established, where the exposition on the composer‘s life and his works are presented. Poetry events, concerts, educational programs are offered to the public here.