Redemptorist Monastery
1935–1936

Klatovská třída 45/45 (Plzeň) Plzeň Jižní Předměstí
GPS: 49.7387648N, 13.3712089E

One of the youngest church orders, the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (called Redemptorists), established in 1732 by St. Alphonsus Liguori, began to operate in Pilsen in 1907. The order bought the so-called Vanek Villa on Klatovská Avenue and established in it the consecrated space of the Chapel of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Perpetual Help (the patronage is derived from a miraculous image venerated by the Redemptorists). In the same year plans were drafted for a new church building, but sufficient funds were not raised for it. It was only thanks to a public collection that the necessary amount was accumulated and in 1910 construction was launched of a new neo-Romanesque church consecrated to St. John of Nepomuk, designed by Jan Svoboda and František Stalmach. The church became a counterpoint to the New Synagogue and the dominant Christian building of Klatovská Avenue in the district of Říšské Předměstí (Imperial Suburb), today Jižní Předměstí (South Suburb).

In March of 1935 the same two architects drafted plans for the new Redemptorist monastery building, which was to replace a former one-storey residential building with a Historicist facade. The new building was meant to be similar in style to the architectural morphology of the neighbouring houses, erected since 1934 on the site of a former factory complex of the Belani brothers. Construction of the monastery was conducted by the Pilsen building firm of Müller & Kapsa in the course of one year. The ground floor of the monastery was set aside for commercial purposes – there was space in the street-side section for six shops and in the courtyard section the storage spaces connected with them. Although another two shops and storage spaces had originally been planned for the northern part of the ground floor, in the end an assembly hall with a stage was created in this space. The residential first floor was reserved for the Redemptorist Fathers – the southern part of the street-side section was divided into six rooms and the northern part housed a reading room and a library. The authors of the plans assigned to this space the whole depth of the section extending into the courtyard. In the northern part of the courtyard section was one small refectory and one big one with an adjacent kitchen, pantry and bathrooms. The oratory – a space reserved for prayer – was situated on the second floor along with another series of residential rooms, which also occupied the entire street-side part of the stepped-back third floor, the floor plan of which was restricted to just two sections, while a large terrace occupied the courtyard section. Another library was located above the oratory.

The architects Svoboda and Stalmach gave the exterior of the building a modest, unassuming character suited to its function. They divided the street-side facade at the level of the third-floor windows with an indication of a string course, linked on the southern edge of the building to the height of the church wall. The smoothly rendered facade is given rhythm with a pattern of longitudinal windows, while in the north wing, containing the common spaces, the architects chose wide, four-light windows (no doubt in part to match the look of the monastery to the neighbouring apartment house). In the southern, residential part they used simple, double-light windows, separated by narrow strips of ceramic tiles. The shops on the ground floor open to the street via simple display windows slightly inset into niches, which are interspersed with separate entrances. The main feature of the courtyard facade, divided by uniform two-light windows, consists of the vertical mass of the glazed stairway avant-corps. The simple, formally and financially economical design of the monastery building corresponds not only to the aesthetic canon of the period, but also to the vows of poverty of the Redemptorist Fathers.

During the mass religious persecutions of the early 1950s the order of the Redemptorists, too, was dismantled; their Pilsen sanctuary became an affiliated chapel to the Church (and from 1993 Cathedral) of St. Bartholomew. The monastery was deconsecrated and at present serves as the administrative headquarters of the Czech Police Force, to which end a range of modifications was made to the interior of the building. With the exception of the ground floor facade, on which the shop windows were bricked up halfway and which was (probably later) tiled up to the level of the first floor windowsills with dark ceramic tiles, the exterior has retained its original character.

 

LV
 

Investor

Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists)

Sources

  • Archiv Odboru stavebně správního, Technický úřad Magistrátu města Plzně
 
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