Juozas Tumas, also known by the pen name Vaižgantas (1869-1933), was a prominent Lithuanian writer, Catholic priest and one of the founders of the Party of National Progress. Tumas is considered one of the most important Lithuanian writers of his era.
A brilliant example to illustrate how important and loved Vaižgantas was in interwar Kaunas is the fact that there was a dahlia grown just for him and called ‘Writer Vaižgantas’. The bright yellow species were grown in 1928, just in time for the priest’s 60th birthday and were very popular in Kaunas before WW2.
In 1997, a museum dedicated to Juozas Tumas-Vaižgantas was established in the Kaunas apartment where he lived and worked from 1920 until 1933. The apartment is located next to Vytautas' the Great Church on the bank of Nemunas where he served as rector. Vaižgantas was buried in the church.
The modest yet aesthetic interior of the four-room apartment has been recreated according to old photographs. Authentic furniture, paintings and personal belongings (even a fur coat from Paris) are on display. The apartment-museum (Aleksoto g. 10), today part of the Maironis Museum of Lithuanian Literature (the main museum is located on Town Hall Square and is well worth a visit, too - here's why!) is open 9AM-5PM Tue-Sat.
After the writer’s death, a street in Žaliakalnis, previously called Algirdo, was renamed after him. Vaižganto street is where the Sugihara House is, as well as the Klimas villa, one of the most beautiful residential houses of the interwar era, designed by Feliksas Vizbaras. Another Vaižgantas-related point of interest is the Vaižgantas progymnasium in Šančiai. Designed by Stasys Kudokas in 1938, it was one of the most modern schools in Lithuania.
P.S. Vaižgantinės, a special celebration, is held annually in September in the writer’s hometown Malaišiai (Anykščiai region). It’s where writers are awarded the honourable Vaižgantas prize. Stop by if you’re around!