The Shooting Range
Built in 1896 as the headquarters of the Gostyń’s Marksmen Society. It’s the oldest known organization founded by the townspeople in the town’s history – it was created on the 8th of June 1666 on the granted privilege by the King John II Casimir.
In 1859, the Marksmen bought a land from the town’s council, to build their new headquarters. The organization became the owner of the land that currently is the location of a park and the so called “Wały” (ramparts). In 1894, a piece of that parcel was sold onwards and dedicated for a Jewish cemetery (the western part of the park, situated on an elevation). There were some problems with obtaining a building permit from the partitioning authorities, since this organisation had a definitely Polish character. Eventually, the permit was obtained at the beginning of the 1890s.
The new headquarters were built in 1896. A pavilion of a decommissioned by the Prussian government Halina’s Agricultural School in Żabikowo, was used as the main part of the building (most likely, in 1864, the said pavilion was used for the international Agricultural Exhibition in Wrocław). The building had one large hall (from the garden side) with a stage that was added later on, and some rooms (from the road side). The building was commonly called the Shooting Range.
The building was used as a restaurant that was being rented up till 1949. The “Shooting Range” was the centre of Gostyń’s social and political life in the last twenty years of the Polish partitions. This is where most of the Polish organizations that operated in Gostyń would hold their meetings. This is where the patriotic debates were conducted, and where many of important decisions for the Polish people were made, for example during the Local Public Council’s meeting, the members decided that Gostyń’s people would join the Greater Poland Uprising.
During the interwar period, the “Shooting Range” was still being used as a place of meetings by social organizations. The Marksmen Society would also organize some major events. On the 22nd of May 1929, the building was visited by the president of the Republic of Poland, Ignacy Mościcki.
In 1939, right after the town was taken over by the Nazi Germans, the Shooting Range was used as barracks by the Wehrmacht. Next, it was occupied by the members of the Todt Organization. Between 1941 and 1942, it was transformed into a camp for the French war prisoners (around 100 people). In 1943, the “Shooting Range” rooms were used as temporary apartments for the so called Bessarabian Germans (from Ukraine and Romania), that were waiting for the allocation of farms abandoned due to the expulsion of the Poles. By the end of the war, it was turned into the quarters of Nazi Military Staff that were guarding the ammunition stored in the forest near Gola. Through the occupation, the building and the park were under administration of the pre-war restaurateur and lessee of the object, as was the decision of the Nazi German authorities.
In 1949, the building was nationalized and leased to the District Management of the Committee of Fighters for Freedom and Democracy. Shortly after, the District Cultural Centre was created there. Currently, the building is owned by the Józef Zeidler 1st level National Music School in Gostyń, with its concert hall, among others.