The First Corps of the Courthouse of the Building Complex of Courts, Soviet State Security Committee Building

Nowadays we mostly know this building for the sad role it played in our country’s history. For 50 years the building of the current Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights was used as the headquarters for the USSR security agencies, whereas the prison established here was used for incarceration and torturing of the fighters for the freedom of Lithuania. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to get acquainted with the origin story of this building as well as its architecture. In 1895-1897 the Tsarist authorities built the courthouse building on the new central street in the city, which at that time was named after St. George, within the course of its rapid development. This building was also used for legal purposes during the period when the city was under the Polish rule; in fact courts operated here until 1940. The building designed by architects Prozorov and Prusakov became one of the largest structures in the city and one of the most prominent examples of the administrative architecture of the Tsarist Period.

The architecture of the building incorporates the shapes of Neo-Classicism architecture along with strict, symmetrical composition, which were very popular in the Russian “government” architecture at that time. Nevertheless, typically to the version of Neo-Classicism prevailing in the Empire at that time period, the decorative elements of the building also incorporate décor borrowed from the canon of Renaissance shapes. In addition to extensive use of ornamentation, the massive-form rustic adds monumentality to the building, even slightly overloading it, as it is used for highlighting the floors vertically as well as shaping of the corner pilasters. An interesting choice is the semi-columns of the Composite order with their bottom parts also highlighted with three strips of rustic, which are incorporated into the central and the side avant-corps. Much more refined neo-classical interior has been preserved in the former representative part of the building, including the particularly ornate lobby and the large hall on the building.