Kallergeio, west wing of the museum, Kallergi & Vas. Sofias Str.
Municipality of Argos
It was built in 1830 by the rich and powerful man of that time, Demetrios Kallergis as a house. It is a bi-level building, big enough, with many rooms, imposing and magnificent. It was in the west edge of a huge garden, which expanded to the east and south as it was full of fruit-bearing trees, cypresses and flowers. It had a cistern of water, buildings for the servants and guards, stables and a small church of St. Demetrios in the east edge.
The kallergis’s house impressed with its size and its internal wealth. It was decorated, especially the big hall of the first floor, where Roman antiquities are hospitalized nowadays. In this hall there was a big chandelier and four dates on its four walls. On the northern one the 25th of March 1821, on the eastern the 3rd of September 1843, on the southern the 18th of March 1844, the day of the oath-taking of king Othon to the Constitution, and on the western the 4th of January 1833, the day of the slaughter of the Argeians by the French. All these are covered in quicklime.
Demetrios Kallergis wanted to grant his house to the Government, for national premises of equal value, which he could offer to Cretan emigrants. That is why the mansion was named “Palace of the Government” and “Palace of Kapodistrias”.
But the Governor was assassinated, and the national premises had not been given to Kallergis yet, and that is why the latter having held deliberations with Augoustinos got his house back. And it is sure that his beautiful wife Sophia, who did not allow the French Officer Stophel stay in the house, lived there in 1833.
After Demetrios Kallergis’s death, his wife permanently inhabited the house with her children and after her death (1893), her son Emmanuel Kallergis, who was an excellent officer and a romantic guitar-player, stayed there. He was the last one of the Kallergis’s family who stayed there.
After his death (1909), the building surrendered to the damage of time.
Later on, it was temporarily inhabited by emigrants from Asia Minor –after 1922 – and by Greek-Russians in 1939-40 for several years.
In the meantime, the inheritors of the Kallergises named above, Ioanna Kallergi and her son Leon had decided to donate it to the Municipality, to lodge a museum and a theatre. The donation took place in April 1932, but the building was not utilized immediately. When the Greek-Russians arrived, it was in a mess. The roof had almost collapsed. The War, the German bondage and the Civil War followed.
In 1955 the Municipality accepts to grant the building to the State for the foundation of the Museum. There is no discussion about a theatre any more. The French Archaeological School of Athens takes up the foundation of the Museum. Professor Paul Kourben was the soul of the whole effort. The new wing of the building in the garden, eastward of Kallergeion, is built financed by the French State and designed by the architect of Russian origin Phomin. The Museum was inaugurated in July 1957 and the new wing in June 1961.