The town of Śródborów founded in 1922, was famous for excellent modernist and Świdermajer style villas designed by the outstanding Polish architects. Many of those villas served as luxury guesthouses and Śródborowianka was definitely the most grandiose of them. Currently, Śródborowianka is the only guesthouse in Otwock which has managed to continue its operations since the 1920s. The history of Śródborowianka dates back to the first half of the 1920s, and more precisely to the year 1922, when a family summerhouse was erected upon a plot of land owned by Mr Tadeusz Płucer-Sarna. It was single-storey wooden edifice with a partially residential loft and glazed porches. The building named after its owner i.e. Sarenka Villa” (i.e. “Doe Villa”) has been preserved until nowadays. At the same time, on a separate land property located east of Sarenka, a single-storey wooden guesthouse named Śródborowianka was erected. It was a large building which included 18 rooms (on its ground- and 1 st floor) equipped with tiled stoves which made possible their occupancy also in wintertime. Unfortunately, the guesthouse has not been preserved till these days. The building belonged to Tadeusz Płucer-Sarna, a famous Warsaw-based entrepreneur. According to pre-war documentation, the guesthouse was a joint property of Tadeusz and Stanisław Płucer-Sarna, the two brothers who owned a big enterprise in Warsaw seated at 5 Tłomackie Street. The company name was Aniline Dies and Chemical Products Trading Society. The guesthouse soon became highly popular among holidaymakers along with the growing popularity of Śródborów itself. As a consequence, Tadeusz Płucer-Sarna decided to expand the building. In 1927, Izaak Wölfling, who resided at a nearby Szwoleżerów Street developed a draft which assumed erecting another one-storey brick house in order to expand the original building. The new edifice bordered with the “old” guesthouse from the north. The extension included 20 new hotel rooms, equipped with bathrooms and toilets and a dining room featuring an orchestra pit, a smoking parlour, a kitchen and pantry, a lobby as well as large loggias and unsheltered terraces. Several years later, the guesthouse was expanded even further in accordance with Józef Czesław Kon’s architectural design, and new premises were added on the side of Literacka Street.
Mr Płucer-Sarna’s modernised leisure resort and spa named Śródborowianka has soon become the major resort in Śródborów. Mr Płucer-Sarna, as a local resident, was also Chairman the Śródborów Enthusiasts Society. Later on, in the period of Nazi occupation, he became a social activist and supported poor children as Chairman of the Social Committee for Children Feeding Campaigns, and since May 1941, he took presidency over Centos Social Branch.
The 1930s were the times of Śródborowianka’s greatest glory. The resort’s guests included members of Jewish elites, actors and writers, such as e.g. Julian Tuwim. The guesthouse’s cellars hosted an ‘illegal’ casino. In the 1920s and 1930s, Śródborowianka’s adverts could frequently be encountered in a number of contemporary tourist magazines such as Almanach Uzdrowisk Polskich, and in regional and national newspapers such as e.g. Nasz Przegląd, Głos Poranny or Kurier Warszawski. In 1937 Śródborowianka was capable of accomodating 54 guests offering them such amenities as a restaurant, telephone access in every room, central heating and running tap water both hot and cold (which was not a standard hotel service offered in the region). The costs of accommodation was 12 zlotys per person, and 16 zlotys including full board. The guesthouse was open to visitors looking for venue where they could recuperate from physical or mental illnesses, except from consumptive patients.
In 1935 Cezary Jellenta wrote that: “One of competitors of Górewicz Guesthouse is Śródborowianka Resort which also demonstrates its understanding of the role of the unity between the building and the surrounding landscape and supplemental character of those two components. The brick house is the result of a very ambitious architectural project. It is surrounded by pine trees and decorated by shrubberies and homely flowers. The focal point of the building the intriguing lobby, which shows that the architect (…) has managed to cleverly combine various modernist forms and vivid colours, thus achieving a stalwart and modern look of the interior. The and building’s vibrant and diversified façade is one of its most grandiose elements. Both guesthouses are worth visiting. Śródborowianka is a place where singularity and splendour meet, and create the unique style of the Casino which combines cuboid shapes into a charming effect, even though the work has neither been completed, nor fully reflects the original intent of the architect, who has shared his sorrow in his letter.” In 1937 Śródborowianka was allegedly visited by Bruno Schulz, who travelled to Śródborów to meet Romana Halpern, who was staying at the resort as a patient. Nevertheless, such hearsay has never been documented.
In September 1939, the guesthouse offered free catering to refugees fleeing from Warsaw. At the end of the Second World War, the building was used as military quarters by the Red Army, and in the post-war period it hosted a Jewish orphanage. When the orphanage was closed, Śródborowianka was taken over by the Jewish community in Poland in order to be used as a holiday resort. Currently, it belongs to the Social and Cultural Association of Jews in Poland. In the post-war period, one of Śródborowianka’s frequent guests was Leopold Kozłowski, the last of pre-war klezmer musicians who stayed there in order to take rest and compose his new pieces. In 2002, a double CD album titled: Leopold Kozłowski. Ostatni klezmer Galicji [Leopold Kozłowski. The Last Klezmer Musician of Galicia] was released in both Polish and Yiddish languages. Adaptations of the original music were recorded at Śródborowianka.
Śródborowianka was the only guesthouse in Otwock which found its permanent place in literature. In 2010, Nisza Publishing House published a novel by Piotr Pazinski, Midrasz editor-in-chief, whose plot was set in the guesthouse. In one of his interviews describing the life of Śródborowianka’s post-war period guests Piotr Paziński wrote: The place was also visited also by people who did not speak much Polish just because they did not identify themselves with the Polish culture. Even now, some old folks visiting Śródborów fluently switch to Yiddish and prefer to use that language for their daily conversations. Many guests came from cultural milieu represented by TSKŻ, such as, e.g. Salomon Belis-Legis, a literary critic who started his career in the pre-war period, or Elijah Rajzman, an outstanding poet from Szczecin, who continued to write in Yiddish until his death. The guesthouse was visited by Daniel Kac, a blind book writer who used to dictate contents of his works in both Yiddish and Polish languages. Mr Kac who passed away several years ago, in the pre-war period shared a prison cell in Wronki with my grandfather, where he was imprisoned for his involvement with the Communist Party of Poland.”
Photographs provided by Paweł Ajdacki