Jelgava Old Town House renovation

By combining the buildings at 50 K. Barona Street and 14 Vecpilsētas Street, a single building has been constructed and renovated, comprising Jelgava Old Town House and the Zemgale Restoration Centre. Jelgava Old Town House features a modern interactive exhibition on the interior and construction trends of the old Jelgava and the history of the house itself. The Zemgale Restoration Centre will be staffed by metal, glass, porcelain, ceramic and textile restorers on a daily basis, and educational events will also be organised to allow interested parties to learn about the restoration process first-hand.

When construction began, the building was in disrepair, resting on rubble and brickwork fragments rather than a monolithic foundation. A complex and unique process for Latvia was used to repair it: the house was raised by about 30 centimetres, new foundations were built, the building was reset, and the original wooden structures were restored. There is evidence that the building has undergone several alterations over time, initially it was smaller, but later enlarged and raised. In some rooms, the trefoil ceiling, which was typical of wooden buildings in Latvia in the 17th and 19th centuries, has been partially preserved.

To make the Jelgava Old Town House as authentic as possible, the renovation process was carried out using historical technologies – existing and recovered building materials have been used as much as possible in the ceilings, walls and floors. Ancient bricks have been used in the floor renovation. The cellar and the unique attic that were excavated during the construction works have been exposed, while the wall gaps have been filled with moss and flax waste that provided thermal insulation in ancient times.

The courtyard pavement is made of old paving stones that were dug up in the courtyard during the construction of the utilities. The facade of the building has been preserved in its authentic appearance. The lime plaster in the building’s fachwerk is original, only cleaned. The doors are based on drawings of historic doors.

In 2009 the ERDF and Jelgava State City Municipality co-financed project “The Renovation of the Jelgava Old City and Its Adaptation for the Requirements of Tourism” was completed, within the framework of which Old Town Street and the pavement, J. Asara Street in the section from Old Town Street to K. Barona Street, K. Barona Street in the section from J. Asara Street to Old Town Street and street lighting were reconstructed. The restoration of the Jelgava Old Town House and the creation of exhibitions have been implemented within the ERDF project “Preservation and Development of a Significant Cultural and Historical Heritage for Improving the Supply of Cultural Tourism in Zemgale Region”.

In 2020, Jelgava Old Town House was recognised as the best building in the “Restoration” category in the “Best Building of the Year in Latvia 2019” competition and in the “Latvian Construction Award 2019” competition.