Klemens’s house

Jozefa Vuruma Street No. 5

Alexander Lombardini, writer and historian from Žilina, has written in magazine Slovenské pohľady (Slovak views) of 1888 that Jozef Božetech Klemens owned a house in the town and after moving to Banská Bystrica he sold it to Jozef Záhumenský, a teacher from the Catholic Folk School in Žilina. The house was situated in a street called Bočná ulička – Platea lateralis, today Vurumova Street No. 5. This house (before 1849 there were two detached medieval houses) belonged originally to a family of yeoman Klobucký. Two Klemens’s sons were born there – Vladimír in 1857 and Bohuslav Peter in 1859. They had 6 children altogether – 4 sons and 2 daughters. In that period the house had a Renaissance cellar, two rooms and a larder. In 1928 another house owner; Markus Linsenberger, planned to add another floor to this one floor house according to the design by a new architect Jozef Zweigenthal from Moravská Ostrava, however the town did not permit the superstructure. The reason was that the town wanted to widen the street and to demolish parts of some houses in particular at the beginning of the street. This, however, did not happen either.

Until 1990 a grocery store was in the house and the Renaissance cellar was buried. The house had two entrances from the street and a back entrance from hotel Reich – restaurant Dukla. A survey proved that the house originally consisted of two detached narrow houses with a Renaissance floor built in the 16th century. A part of the house was built in the 18th century in a Baroque style and in the middle of the 19th century the house was reconstructed in the Classicist style. Degrading construction adjustments were made in the 20th century. Recently, the house has undergone a large reconstruction, the buried cellar was restored and made accessible again, both the floor and the yard were restored too, for the needs of pizza restaurant Trattoria PEPE.

Jozef Božetech Klemens. Many scholarly and popular articles were written about this painter, sculptor, builder, technician, inventor, archaeologist, natural scientist and teacher. He is often compared to Leonardo da Vinci, the famous scholar from the period of the Italian Renaissance. Who was this representative of cultural and artistic life from the period of the Slovak National Revival? He was born on 8 March 1817 in Liptovský Mikuláš. His father came from the Silesian Kladno region, from the village of Frankenstein and his mother came from the Tatras. The father was a skilful craftsman, and saddle and carriage maker. The son refined his inherited technical skills during his studies in Prague. He discovered his painting talent as a young boy, when he was painting pictures on carriages made by his father, and church pictures as well. Several Czech personalities who saw his pictures recommended him to study at the Painting Academy in Prague. He stayed in Prague from 1837 to 1843. On the recommendation of Earl Hun, the academy administrator, he was teaching drawing in many noble and townsmen families in Prague. He met several representatives of the Czech National Revival, such as Palacký, Šafárik, Purkyně, Čelakovský and others. They wanted to establish an industrial school, but the idea was thwarted by the beginning of revolution. In Prague, Klemens focused on painting of portraits and bigger pictures. In 1842 he established a photography atelierdaguerreotypy, only three years after this method had been invented in France. Unfortunately, he did not manage to start the production. In 1843 he returned to Slovakia for some time, where he was painting portraits and making plans for the establishment of an industrial school in Banská Bystrica in 1846. In Liptovský Ján he was trying to produce zinc white from the local carbon spring. Then he returned to Prague and studied at a polytechnic school, where he graduated in natural sciences, Czech language and German language in 1856. And so Klemens become a qualified teacher, constructor with a diploma and a technician. In 1848 he married a young 17-year old noble girl Adela Kuglerová from Kolín nad Rýnom. The Uprising broke out after they were married and so they helped build barricades in Prague streets instead of celebrating the wedding. In 1849 they returned to Liptov, where Klemens painted many church paintings and portraits. He prepared a design for a church in a Liptov village Bobrovec and painted pictures in the church, too. In 1855 he was offered to teach drawing at a lyceum in Beograd. The whole family travelled on a raft made by Klemens himself down the Váh river and the Danube river to Budapest and then by a steam boat to Beograd. In Beograd, Klemens made a sculpture – chest of Karaďordevič, a popular Serbian politician. In Beograd he became ill with a cold fever and he returned to Prague in 1856, where he passed the above mentioned examinations.

In 1856 he came to Žilina to teach at the real school. He worked actively with the youth encouraging them to study, because studying meant a better future. Also in Žilina he behaved as a conscious Slovak. When an earthquake hit the town in 1858, Klemens described it in detail and published the information abroad. In 1858 Dionýz Štúr from the Reich Geological Institute in Vienna visited Žilina and together with Klemens they performed geological and botanical research of Veľký Rozsutec. In those times Klemens was painting several works in churches in Žilina. Repairs of a damaged parish church were completed in 1869 according to Klemens’ design from 1866. There are three pictures by Klemens today at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity and one picture in the Church of St. Paul’s Conversion.

Klemens was very active in the town, he was helping building wells and repairing a brewery for example. He became a respectable inhabitant of the town and for his many merits he became a townsman in 1860. Several Žilina inhabitants did not agree with his involvement in a memorandum assembly in Martin in June 1861 and accused him of Pan-Slavism and even damaged his house with ink. After the school was closed, Klemens moved to Banská Bystrica in 1863 to teach at the local Catholic secondary grammar school and, since he did not speak Hungarian, he was teaching drawing at the local Evangelic lyceum. His wife died and he decided to marry Antónia Riznerová from Kláštor pod Znievom in 1868. Jozef Božetech Klemens died on 17 January 1883 in Vienna after an unsuccessful surgery for kidney stones, and was buried in the Central cemetery. At present his grave no longer exists.

It can be visited
exterior during a guided tour of TIO Žilina.

Position of the monument on the map: B4

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