In one of his letters Holst writes the address of his ‘sleeping quarters’ in Salonica. Today we went to find it.We knew that it was near the famous White Tower as Holst describes his quarters and the YMCA canteen as being near this iconic structure. Holst gives the address as 19 Evzonon, which is unusual as letters were censored and are usually labelled with addresses such as YMCA British Base.
After studying modern maps, Google and discussing it with our Greek contacts we found the street. I had prepared myself for a modern building – the area where his quarters were have undergone redevelopment. I was correct in assuming the building is now lost. In its place is a modern apartment block with a shoe shop named Scarpe Diem at street level. I wonder what Holst would have made of the array of women’s shoes on display!
However there were remnants of the past still stalking the streets. Just a few doors away was an intricate pair of metal gates, evidence of a lost 19th century building which Holst would have passed daily. Then just round the corner was a ramshackle but still stunning shuttered house, it’s paint peeling. As I gazed up at it, I imagined the lost house where Holst once slept in the shadow of The White Tower and the shore.