Vesecký Department Store
1911–1912 / 1932

Františkánská 127/8 (Plzeň) Plzeň Vnitřní Město
Public transport: Náměstí Republiky
Muzeum
GPS: 49.7457767N, 13.3777289E

In 1910, the Pilsen branch of the joint stock company Société industrielle, comerciale et immobilière de Bruxelles decided to build on the site of two dilapidated historical houses in Františkánská Street a new, modern building. The plans for the monumental four-storey residential and commercial building were drafted by the Viennese architect Ludwig Tremmel, who worked in Pilsen from 1907 up to the end of the First World War and also designed in the centre and its the immediate vicinity a number of representative buildings in Modern Neo-Classical style. The actual construction work in 1911-1912 was assigned to the Pilsen contractor Josef Houdek.

There were two three-room flats with a kitchen, bathroom and maid’s room on each of the upper floors, except for the first floor, for which the architect designed a spacious apartment that included a waiting room and a darkroom. On the ground floor, lined along its entire length with wood-framed display windows, was an entrance lobby and three separate shops, to which were attached two offices, employees’ facilities and store rooms. The main facade of the building, with a massive, overhanging cornice – which was to become typical of most of Tremmel’s Pilsen buildings – is accentuated on the second floor with a wide balcony with rounded corners and ornamental metal railings. The facade is further divided by two shallow semicircular oriels crowned by narrow balconies on the level of the uppermost floor.

In the early 1930s, several department stores were opened in Pilsen, especially on today’s Americká Avenue. In order to fare better against the growing competition, the new owners, Max Vesecký and his wife Olga, decided to significantly modernise their premises on Františkánská Street. In 1932, Max Vesecký, a successful wholesale draper, commissioned the Prague architect Erwin Katona to draft the plans. Katona applied in them his wealth of experience of analogous Functionalist buildings. The proposed modifications, which were executed by the local builder Karel Krůta, consisted primarily of alteration of the existing ground floor and the creation of new display windows.

In accordance with the plans, store rooms, a goods packing room, dispatch, boiler room and lift shaft were built in the basement. The ground floor subsequently held an expansive sales room, a sample room, cloakroom, cash desk and accounts office. The sides of the short entrance foyer with three circular ceiling lights were lined with projecting steel-framed display windows with rounded corners. The bases of the display windows and the parterre of the building were clad in dark syenite stone and above the entrance was a precisely executed VESECKÝ shop sign, composed of individual metal letters.

According to contemporary press reports, the opening of the modern store caused a great sensation. In the elegant and purposefully furnished sales room, customers could buy not only the quality drapery of Vesecký’s firm, but also the first-class silk goods of the renowned Prague fashion house of Otto Kollinský. In 1937, Karel Krůta completed in the courtyard a low two-storey extension with a fabric-testing room, office and laundry. The flat roof of the building served as a terrace.

The firm was confiscated by the Nazis during WWII and after 1948 was nationalised by the communists. In the following years the ground floor of the building underwent a number of somewhat unfortunate adaptations, which gradually degraded the valuable interior. The prominent Dům látek (House of Fabrics) sign was installed above the shop windows probably in the 1960s.
 

AK

Investor

Société industrielle, comerciale et immobilière de Bruxelles, a. s. / Max Vesecký and his wife Olga

Sources

  • Archiv Odboru stavebně správního, Technický úřad Magistrátu města Plzně
 
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