18. Buildings of Mārstaļu iela
To the South from the Old City area, in the direction where formerly stretched the entry to Lake Riga, leads Mārstaļu iela – the continuation of Šķūņu and Skārņu ielas. In the 13th to 15th centuries yards of town councillors and rich merchants were along it. In 1330 there were established horse studs of town council. A building (1684 - 1688) owned by a merchant Johan Reitern on Mārstaļu iela 2 is notable in the context of the oldest structure of city planning. It is a spectacular three-floor building with its roof gable being parallel to the iela. Five-axle composition of the building facade is vertically split by pilasters of the big order’s lonic arrangement and it is finished by a plastic cornice with a low-pitched fronton in the centre. The entrance gantry, made by a stonemason Ansis Šmīselis, with Corinthian columns and pictures of the building’s first owners attributes baroque plasticity to this building formed through the influence of Dutch classicism of the 17th century. Reiterna House was repeatedly (around 1890, 1893 and 1907 - 1909) rebuilt, but during the last restoration (1985 - 1990) its original, baroque designing was reconstructed, its spacious windows and decoration of the 17th – 19th century were renovated.
The Reformed Church is situated on Mārstaļu iela 10 and is one of a few chapels in Latvia built by followers of Calvin and Cvingle. Although in the 16th century there were relatively many reformers in Riga, their first parish was only approved in 1721. After six years it finally started building its own church and it was finished in 1733. The chapel designed by a building craftsman Cristof Meinert (? - 1754), is a hall-type building with a baroque tower. Its facade, on Mārstaļu iela, is decorated by a sandstone gantry made in Bremen. The church was affected by two larger reconstructions: in 1805 a storehouse was established in its first floor, but in the post-war years the chapel was used as a recording studio. Nowadays the building again fulfils its original functions.
On Mārstaļu iela 21 one more outstanding monument of baroque architecture can be viewed – Dannenstern House. In 1693 Ernst Metsue von Dannenstern, a large-scale merchant, purchased two adjacent building plots, and a year later began building a grand construction that was finished in 1696. The last finishing work of the house (made by Johan Bodemer, stonemason and sculptor, an inhabitant of Zurich) dragged on till 1699. It is known that also Ditrih Valter, a sculptor from Stockholm, was working on the finishing work of the building. Stucco works in the interior of the house were performed by Joseph Rigacio.
The building consists of a main iela block and two courtyard blocks. The two lower floors of the iela block were envisaged for living, but the inter-floor above them was used as a storehouse. In the attic of the block a five-floor storehouse was established with many trapdoors and rising mechanism. Thus the house with successfully combined practical and representative functions was serving both for Dannenstern as a merchant and Dannenstern as an aristocrat.
The facade of the main block dressed with limestone is decorated with the order’s pilasters in Corinthian arrangement and with two symmetrical risalitas with gantries and low-pitched frontons. The interior decoration of the building’s living apartments: masterful woodcarvings, stucco formations and Delft tiles are waiting for careful restoration.