Being one of the oldest secular brick buildings of the city, the Hetman’s House (also called the Old Mint) is an historic palace from the 14th century. It name dates from the 18th century, when it was owned by the Branicki family, including Crown Hetman Jan Klemens Branicki. The building has a valuable sculptural decoration in one of the rooms. Nowadays, it houses a well-known bookstore.
The oldest walls of the building are likely from the late 13th century. The front walls are mainly from the first half of the following century. The house was originally either a royal or municipal property. In the 16th century, it was purchased by the Beer family, who had the right to mint coins. Hence the house’s alternative name, “the Old Mint”.
The house was expanded in the 14th century. The wall facing the Main Square received a perron and two large rooms were created in the front: a hall with three naves, resting on four pillars; and a stately Gothic Room with keystones and rich sculptural decoration. In the 15th century, an additional storey was built.
Dated to the second half of the 14th century, probably from the last period of the reign of Casimir the Great, the room has a Gothic cross vault with richly decorated keystones, a characteristic that is unusual in secular architecture of this period. Especially valuable are two keystones: one depicting the head of Casimir the Great and another a woman, perhaps his sister Elżbieta. All the keystones show coats of arms of the lands of the Polish Kingdom. There are also a few that depict allegorical images and animals.
In the first half of the 17th century, the building was adapted for a palace by the Ossoliński family. At the end of that century, it was acquired by the Branickis who remodelled the building twice, giving the palace a more Baroque character.
The house fell into disrepair, and in 1816 was purchased by Teodor Anzelm Dzwonkowski, who carried out a major refurbishment. At that time, the building received a façade, reminiscent of the current one. In 1850, the building burnt down in the great fire of the town but was quickly rebuilt.
During the time of the Partitions of Poland, the house served as Austrian army barracks several times. In the second half of the 20th century, the building underwent major renovation combined with a partial reconstruction of its 18th-century appearance.