Square and street network in Vaškai

  • Vaškų miestelio aikštė ir gatvių tinklas
The earliest mention of Vaškai (Konstantinavas) in written historical sources is associated with a chapel built in 1665. At the time, Vaškai could have been a compact settlement. In accordance with one opinion that the original Vaškai settlement was set up during the Volok Reform (a volok – land unit of about 21.38 hectares) as well as taking into account another possibility that Vaškai formed later itself, it should be assumed that it was a derivate of a linear plan settlement, where homesteads were situated along one road. When guessing that later the settlement extended towards undeveloped areas, it can be assumed that in the second half of the sixteenth century and the first half of the seventeenth century (until a building of chapel – depending on a church institution – was started) Vaškai expanded to the north from the crossroads which already existed at that time or was formed later. There is little doubt that the Vaškai chapel, as well as other Grand Duchy of Lithuania’s street-type village chapels, was built at the end of the village, judging by the unchanged latest position of the building – on the west side of a road from Grūžiai to Bauskė. If, within there was not only that way, but also one more road from Biržai through Pasvalys to Žeimelis, the chapel could be on the east axis of that road section. It would have demonstrated an assumption of a village center occured at crossroads and linear settlement plan eventually evolved into a radial village plan – and thus a corresponding composition origin was there. It was thought that a rectangle plan of Vaškai might have formed in the second half of the XVIII century. It had to depend on the specific activities of the town, particularly on dimension and character of trade. A church inspection act of 1820 is an important document demonstrating Vaškai development since a town’s market and school were mentioned for the first time. It was also written that Vaškai had been expanding as people purchased land parcels from a Zvanagala landowner P. K. Dokalskis. After the privilege of 1730, which allowed foundation of a settlement and gave a possibility to have markets and fairs, due to adverse conditions Vaškai really did not develop until the end of the eighteenth century. In the second half of the eighteen century, trade was poor and hardly had been able to create a substantial and methodical development of Vaškai, as well as the formation of rectangular and regular Square according to a retrospective scheme of 1730–1750, planning the conversion of a village into a small town. That was testified by Square location mentioned in the document of 1820. Square appeared, but it was due to the formation of settlement itself. It was therefore much smaller than it could be planned, and it was founded in the first half of the twentieth century, but not in a planned place – the southeast corner of the crossroads – next to the church though. However, this fact shows that the village transformed itself into a small town. In 1881, a new two-tower red brick church was built , which one side "stood" beside the main street of the meridian direction and beside old Square on the east side of the same street. The church had fundamentally changed the panorama of the small town and became a significant and dominant feature of surroundings. At the end of the nineteenth century, Vaškai would have had a correct plan and a partly built panorama, which was typical for many Lithuanian towns. It matched with the towns’ economic activity. In 1920, the struggles for independence ended and at the beginning of the peaceful life some constructions were started. However, the population was not increasing, there was not a great need for expansion, and the new ones replaced only old buildings of homesteads. This development of the town construction is confirmed by a comparison of the number of houses built in the town in 1923 and in 1930–1931: there were only 13 houses more. At that time, there were 12 Streets: Vilniaus, Partizanų, Karininko Juozapavičiaus, Žeimelio, Pirties, Pašto, Bažnyčio, Vaistinės, Kapų, Žalioji, Sodų and Pakluonės. A plan drawing of 1930–1931 and a photo taken from an airplane depicted the network of streets and testified the town being of rectangular shape especially clear on the east side of the road Joniškėlis–Grūžiai–Bauska, where was a main territory of Vaškai extension. Square was located behind the homesteads of Biržai and Joniškėlis roads. Thus, at the end of the nineteenth century, the town was extended and rebuilt according to the second option of a retrospective scheme. In 1937, there was prepared a "bricked district" project, which provided broadening some of the streets (including 4 major Streets Žeimelio, Karininko Juozapavičiaus, Partizanų and Vilniaus), increasing of old market Square in front of the church by giving it a more regular form and demolishing some buldings which impeded such transformation. In 1938, there was prepared a "brick district" justification. It was noted that it was an appropriate decision because that district was "non forested”, and there was in the plans to build Panevėžys–Joniškėlis–Vaškai–Žeimelis railway which let transport bricks to build brick homes as part of their project " Lithuania of brick buildings”. The project was approved only in 1940. In the sixties of the twentieth century, the Lithuanian Urban Heritage research found that Vaškai during the both world wars was not seriously damaged, there are still significant urban architectural values. Based on the survey results in 1969, this small town was declared an urban monument of local importance. There also were detarminated valuable built areas, protected parts and presented a further building regulation. In 1979, it was provided to put up buildings on Square, which was away from the main streets. Thanks to Proffessor A. Miškinis, that project was adjusted and Square was saved: some holding executives desire to destroy Square was rejected as violating the law of historical and cultural monuments protection, approved in 1967. According to the 1979 project, the existent town area was not touched and plots for new buildings were provided to the east, west and south of the town along the main road. After 1979, even Pasvalys district architect did not consider the approved project. The local authorities ordered to partially build Square and plant the other area. The town lost one of the most important elements, and so the whole matched with the state of that time.
  • GPS coordinates: 56.16890202028423, 24.21083808032563