The town villa on the corner of Hodžova and Hurbanova street was built by the well-known Žilina lawyer, Ján Milec (1847-1901), in the 1890s. Ján Milec and his wife Oľga, the daughter of the important businessman from Ružomberok, Peter Makovický, raised a son, Ivan, a Slovak diplomat and daughters who married important figures in Slovak history: Paulíny-Tóth, Karol Ondrej Kuzmány, Igor Pietr, Andrej Bacher, Milan Kohút.
Ján Milec was a founding member of Matica slovenská, Tatrabanka and Vzájomná pomocnica in Žilina. The cement factory in Lietavská Lúčka and the water duct from Žilina to Turie were built on his land.
The house was originally a post office and also served as a prayer room for Žilina’s Lutherans from 1902 to 1904. Once the new post office was built in 1908, it housed a branch of the Ružomberok Úverová banka from 1911.
In 1919 the bank changed names to become Slovenská banka, whose director was Andrej Bacher (1885-1945), an important citizen of Žilina and a Slovak national figure. People in Žilina informally call the villa which he bought with his wife Edita, the daughter of Ján Milec, “Bacher’s Villa”.
From December 12th 1918, the building was the headquarters of the minister with full powers for the administration of Slovakia, Dr. Vavro Šrobár (1867-1950) and his office which was de facto the Slovak government. Šrobár and other members of the government arrived in Žilina by train on December 12th 1918 shortly after midday. Before his arrival, Šrobár had sent Dr. Ján Brežný from Prague to Žilina to prepare his government’s stay. On his arrival, Brežný then wantonly had twelve leading Hungarian and Jewish townsmen preventively intervened in the government’s name, which sparked outrage among Šrobár and members of his government. On F. Houdek’s advice, Brežný even keep the arrival of the 1st Slovak government secret from representatives of the town. For this reason, when the members of Šrobár’s cabinet arrived at Žilina station, all that was awaiting them, apart from the cold and the bad weather, was Brežný himself and a few colleagues. The whole government then had to walk with their luggage through side streets to the Folkmann hotel next to the town hall. At that time, there were few accommodation possibilities, so Šrobár temporarily “requisitioned” the flat belonging to the Hálkek family who had travelled to Prague to welcome T. G. Masaryk. Since there were no rooms for holding office, a few offices in Bacher’s villa proved an emergency solution. It was only after the intervention of the then mayor of Žilina, Ignác Rada, that members of the government were housed in private flats.
At the turn of 1919, the Ministry with full powers for the administration of Slovakia moved for reasons of space into the building of the Hungarian ministry of agriculture on present-day Národná street (now UniCredit bank) which they also “requisitioned”. So for two months, until February 2nd 1919, Žilina thus became the capital of Slovakia. The unsuitable conditions for running the ministry forced Šrobár to relocate to the “big city of Prešporok”. On February 3rd 1919, the first Slovak government moved to Bratislava.
These events are recalled on the first floor of Bacher’s villa by a commemorative plaque by the sculptor Vojtec Ihrisko dating from 1928. The plaque bears the inscription: “The first Slovak government held office here from December 12th 1918 until February 2nd 1919”. This commemorative plaque and Bacher’s villa as a whole are registered in the Central List of Heritage Sites under the number 1437/1-2.
Source: Mgr. Jozef Moravčík, Mgr. Peter Štanský
It can be visited
■ exterior during a guided tour of TIO Žilina.
Position of the monument on the map: B4