Szczepanik’s House on Szopena Street

Close to the first residence of Dzikowski family on Sowińskiego street, father in law of the famous inventor Jan Szczepanik build another tenement house on the Szopena Street 11. This time the author of the project was Franciszek Hackbeil the younger, known in the city architect, who designed the house in his own style. Attention is immediately drawn to a tower, in the corner of the building, finished off with a dome roof. Over the windows of the side wall, there is a visible architecturally exposed owner’s monogram “Z.D.” Earlier monograms were also placed on a metal grating which adorned the entry doors. In a book ”Forgotten Inventor” written by Anna Pragłowska which excellently describes Jan Szczepanik’s life we can find part of a post card sent by the doctor Zygmunt Dzikowski to his sister from Karlsbad, where he was resting. The passage reads; “ Dear Sister of mine! As you probably know I have build a New 2 storey, pretty tenement house – and have taken personally quit a heavy load on my shoulders, even though loans are hard to come by. Well as long as there will be health, it will be ok – at least kids will have something to remember their parents by” Karlsbad 22 September 1912. Fortunately for our investor, all of his loan problems were solved by the beginning of the 1st World War, for a very simple reason – all of Austro Hungarian Banks closed. The family of Jan Szczepanik lived in this house, starting in 1915, after the southern part of the eastern front passed. It is impossible to find out whether or not our local inventor worked on any projects while living here, because last years of his life he spent between Tarnów and German cities where German industrialists tried to use his innovative mind, especially during the Great War. He was to, for example, make for the German Government a giant tapestry several tens of meters long. This work was to show German victories. In 1916 he was visited in Tarnów, in order to show him drawings of German designers. Tapestry was to be woven using one of Szczepanik’s inventions. German defeats on the eastern front put a stop to the project. At that time he became interested in film. At the end of the war he owned several models of movie cameras and made first color film trials, then he tried to improve his equipment for practical production of color film. With the help of improved cameras a first trial movie was made. This movie showed a surgical procedure conducted in a Langbeck Virchov hospital. There the inventor had a major success. The effect of the movie was tremendous. Natural look of the pictures, sight of the open abdominal cavity and dripping blood made some of the viewers faint during the showing of the film. Press articles had positive comments about the invention. For other topics of further trial movies Swiss Alps were chosen where a glacier was shown. The light green color of the glacier was supposedly the hardest to recreate. The aim was to test Szczepanik’s invention in different conditions, and the inventor constructed a new camera model which optical alignment of moving pictures. Work on the development of film technology went on until 1926, when after his death, his wife and his son Zbigniew went to Berlin. After selling diamond earrings, which she received from her soon to be husband for their engagement, she financed their trip, fulfilling her husbands wish, who wanted to leave this world in his house among his closest, which happened on Sunday afternoon in 1926. In 1972 members of the Association of The Friends of Tarnów funded and placed in one of the walls of this house a plaque commemorating the “Polish Edison”.