Minsk’s prominent women of the 19th -20th centuries


Minsk’s prominent women of the 19th -20th centuries

In the 19th century, women played an essential role in public affairs of Minsk.

It’s not common knowledge that a wooden brewery at the crossroads of Bogdanovicha Street and Kiseleva Street was opened on January 29, 1864 thanks to Rokhlya Frumkinova.

Today, the brewery is an industrial architectural landmark of the 19th century. Frumkinova constructed the brewery using her own property. She wrote a letter to the emperor to get permission for the Brovar’s opening. Brovar was the name for the factories where spirit, beer, and vine were produced.

It’s interesting that every Minsk’s nobleman consumed more than 100 liters of beer a year. That fact could be explained by the poor sanitary condition of water in the city. To drink such water was unsafe, so people preferred beer.

Back then, there wasn’t any brewery in Minsk, so Rokhlya Frumkinova thought that she could bring profit and joy to the city and its citizens.

Evgeny Byts, guide:
She ran the factory for 20 years and later it became the property of the famous count Karl Chapsky.

One more well-known name is Jadwiga Kostrovitskaya. She was a smart and intelligent woman and an excellent businessanalyst.

Jadwiga Kostrovitskaya

Her elder brother Edward Voinilovich, a politician and a public figure, started the construction of the Church of Saints Simon and Helen. Jadwiga Kostrovitskaya also participated in the building of the church.

She lived not far from the church in the Yanitsky’s house. Later, the building was renovated. Thus, today, the Institute for Retraining and Advanced Training of Judges, Prosecutors and Legal Professionals is situated in that building.

Jadwiga Kostrovitskaya used to live in an 8-room flat on the first floor.

Evgeny Byts, guide:
A lot of salon exhibitions were held under her roof, during which people discussed very important business issues.

Moreover, Jadwiga Kostrovitskaya owned several guest houses. Such houses were built so that people could rent apartments. One of the Kostrovitskaya’s revenue houses was located in Nezavisimosti Square till the 1960s.

Guest houses were in demand in Minsk at the end of the 19th century – at the beginning of the 20th century. Besides, they appeared to be very profitable.

Guest house

Jadwiga Kostrovitskaya was a member of the first charity organization and donated a lot of money to children from needy families.

She would have done a lot of good deeds, however, the revolution started in 1917.

The elite had to pay huge taxes to be freed. Thus, Jadwiga Kostrovitskaya had to pay one million rubles. In 1921, she managed to move to the Polish town Bydgoszcz. She lived there together with her brother until death in 1935.

One more prominent woman was Maria Magdalena Radziwill. She was a great-granddaughter of the last Polish king Stanislaw August. She had great education and was a very extraordinary woman.

Evgeny Byts, guide:
She got married at a very young age. Her husband was much older than she and soon, he died. Maria Magdalena liked to travel a lot with her daughter. Once, when she visited London, she met Mikalai Radziwill and fell in love with him. He was a poor nobleman from a German family. They got married. Maria Magdalena was then 19 years older than her husband. She constructed hospitals and built houses for students.

Maria Magdalena contributed a lot to Belarusian culture. Literature, journalism, and education developed thanks to her efforts.

Maria Magdalena

She financed a number of Belarusian newspapers and supported financially the University of Vilna.

The elite didn’t approve of her marriage, so her family left Minsk.

Evgeny Byts, guide:
Her second husband died during WWI. After his death, Maria Magdalena moved to Warsaw. Later, she came to Switzerland, where she died.

Even though at the beginning of the 20th century, the word “businesswoman” didn’t exist, these women made an enormous contribution to the city’s economy and culture. Therefore, it would be great if people don’t forget their names.