The Move of Faculty of History to new home. A story of old home

The old building at Brīvības Boulevard right in middle between Monument of Freedom and House of Ministers

Today The Faculty of History and Philosophy of University of Latvia are moving to new address.  Yes the finance crisis has finally forced us studying and educating historians move from old place at Brīvības Boulevard 32 to Mārstaļu street 28/30. The rumors and discussions about leaving old home has been present for a long time. The house did not belong to University, it was property of ” State Real Estates” and University paid rent for it. Now since the finance crisis has affected nearly everything in Latvia, the University finally decided to save money and move historians and philosophers out. There were three possible destinations the Lomonosov street in one house Social Science faculty, the University main building and Mārstaļu street in Old Riga near river Daugava. The first two choices were not satisfactory and even disgraceful as we would have to share place with students from other faculties. The building at Mārstaļu street was smaller than old building, but at least was located in Old Riga and was Universities property.

Even if move destination was not bad common resentment about the move was shared among many students, professors and other graduates. For old building was home for every historian since 1946. All of our professors, lecturers and other workers has studied and worked there all their lives.   For many of them building in Brīvība Boulevard was their second home.

Today at 22. December the ceremonial removal of faculty sign occurred and processions by students and professors took place to new home.  Professor  Alberts Varslavans one of the first who started his carrier in Brīvības Boulevard give a small speech and told that this building will forever will be related to historians, “no matter what will happen with this building after we leave, there will always be flavor of historians present in every corner of this building”.

The Dean of Faculty removes the old sign

The building was built in 1875. by architect H.K. Sheel   It was property of German family von Trazee. At 1917.  it was home for Latvian Rifleman regiment united soviet executive (The Iskolatstel). At 1918. it was home of Separate Student company- one of the first military formation of Army of Latvia.  At times of Freedom, building was used for many purposes.  Mentioned creditors and estate owners settled there.  Restaurants and even cabaret club was there. Cabaret Restaurant “Parka Pagrabs” (“Park Basement (Vemanis Park was nearby)) was famous among many Latvian artists, writers and journalists.

Soviet regime did not respect any private property so they decided to move historians and philologists to this new home. Before they shared the main building at Rainis Boulevard. The First floor was used by popular souvenir and clothing shop “Sakta” (“Brooch”). It was popular shopping place in Soviet Era.

Philologists eventually became separate from historians and philosophers came together with them. Both had their own libraries. Main lecture room was 1. auditory- big hall capable of holding more than 100 students. There the main lectures and exams took place. Others were smaller. The third auditory was most technically advanced, presentations and  movie shows took place. In there the examining of Bachelor and Master works  were taken. Last floor was mostly used for philosophers.  In Soviet Era faculty even had its own cafeteria. After it was closed, students were forced to use coffee machine of head to main building or use private cafeterias. At 2006. legendary shop “Sakta” was closed and space became used by Latvian Post service and Narvesen shop and Index cafe.

Now Faculty has new home. It’s near river Daugava. In front of new faculty stands abounded House of Darnenstein a monument of history. At first glance the new stairs and corridors of new home feels narrow, but at least we are on our own in Old Riga.

Farewell and Good-by Brīvības Boulevard, Hello to Mārstaļu street.

The new location at old Riga


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