Papírenský Park / Paper Mill Park

(Plzeň) Plzeň Východní Předměstí
GPS: 49.733986, 13.386511

For almost 150 years the premises of ​​the former Pilsen paper mill have been situated on the border between the Petrohrad and Slovany districts, on a gentle slope above the right bank of the Radbuza River. From the south-east side it is adjoined by Paper Mill Park, the foundation of which is closely linked to the history of the company. The paper mill started production in 1873, but went bankrupt soon after. In 1878 it was acquired by the P. Piette company. Seven years later, the new technical director of the company, Louis Piette, had a Historicist villa built adjacent to the paper mill, with a generous garden stretching along the southern edge of the factory premises that became the basis of the present park. The architect Moritz Hinträger placed the imposing Neo-Renaissance building in the eastern part of the plot near the entrance to the complex and oriented its main facade to Zahradní Street. The park was adapted in the style of English landscape parks, with many different tree species and a small pond.

The present-day Paper Mill Park served private purposes until the end of the World War I. At that time the company belonged to the Neusiedler AG Group, to which it was sold by the Piette brothers in 1912. In the 1920s, the company was gradually making the park accessible, initially only to its employees. After World War II, when the firm was nationalised by the state and incorporated into the West Bohemian Paper Mills, about a third of the park was open to the public; the remaining part was reserved for employees. It was probably at this time that a stone memorial to the victims of World War II was installed in the northern section. The former Piette villa, which none of the other directors had used to live in themselves, underwent a series of alterations at the time ­– it served employees as a dining room, nursery school and health centre. In the 1970s a kindergarten was built at the southern boundary of the park and a part of the park was transformed into a garden.

After the Velvet Revolution, the paper mill continued to operate for another fifteen years. When the production stopped in 2004, most of the factory buildings became rental warehouses, and former paper sorting department was turned into a cultural centre with a café. The building, which is undergoing a gradual transformation, houses spaces for music productions and exhibitions, a dance studio and a photo studio; there used to be a go-kart track here as well. In 2013, the entire premises including the building of the cultural centre were granted monument protection. Already in 2008, the Pilsen branch of the National Heritage Institute submitted an application for obtaining the status of an immovable cultural monument for the decades-neglected Piette villa, however without success. Before the end of the proceedings, its then owner had it torn down on the basis of a demolition order.

The privately owned paper park remains divided to this day. A smaller part of the premises adjacent to the 89th Kindergarten in Habrová Street is administered by the city and made available to the public. Almost two thirds of the area are fenced in and are becoming overgrown with pioneer woody plants. The pond disappeared long ago and the memorial to the victims of war has been gradually deteriorating due to vandalism. However, despite its dismal condition, the park retains an impressive and intimate atmosphere. Irregularly spaced trees form a green canopy above a continuous grassy area. Several pieces of original, partly damaged furniture still serve their purpose here.

In recent years, Pilsen citizens have repeatedly taken an initiative to open the closed part of the park to the public. The activity of the Foster the City association then led to the reopening of negotiations between the public administration and the landowner, which brought the issue into the public light. At present, making the park accessible is a programme item of the coalition government of the city district park; nevertheless, realisation of the plan depends on the success of the negotiations between the representatives of the city and district with the owner.


MR – PK

Sources

  • Vila Piette, Národní památkový ústav. Památkový katalog, https://pamatkovykatalog.cz/vila-piette-13935420, vyhledáno 26. 8. 2018.
  • Bývalá papírna Piette, Národní památkový ústav. Památkový katalog, https://pamatkovykatalog.cz/byvala-papirna-piette-18419231, vyhledáno 26. 8. 2018.
  • P. Piette, veřejná obchodní společnost v Praze, závod Plzeň, 1870–1911 (1959), Státní oblastní archiv v Plzni, pracoviště Klášter
  • Kateřina Sýkorová, Plzeňská papírna rodiny Piette (diplomová práce), katedra historie Fakulty pedagogické ZČU, Plzeň 2013.
 
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