City reclaims half of building

  • 2000-11-23
  • Darius James Ross
VILNIUS – Many a Vilniusite has probably wondered why the stately building at the corner of Traku and Islandijos streets has been overlooked in the widespread restoration of the Old Town.

The building has been at the center of a complex legal battle for the better part of the last decade. Ownership was restored in the early 90s to Regina Epstein Paul of Canada, daughter of the prewar proprietors. It was then reportedly sold for a song to a businessman, Vladislovas Kliukovskis, who promptly went bankrupt.

The city of Vilnius has now reclaimed half the building and is planning some form of renovation. The other half is once again being contested by Epstein Paul. "It's hard to know at this point what we can do," said Darius Daunoras, a municipal official. "The place has been unheated for years and the windows were left open. Extreme temperature fluctuations can wreak havoc on a building's structure. It may end up like the Russian Drama Theater that was so badly damaged we had to tear it down completely and then rebuild it. The story of this building is absurd and sad."

The apartment building was built as a two-story structure in the mid 19th century and then bought by Solomon Minkovski who added a third floor in 1898. It has remained unchanged since that time.