From the middle ages, the Kálov neighbourhood was a district of small single-storey buildings that included the town poorhouse, and land that was intended to finance it. The land that is now SNP Park was originally vacant and the first buildings around it were built at the end of the 19th century. The character of the houses around the Kálov Road and its junction with what is now Kmeťova ulica began to change and several attractive modern buildings in Art Nouveau and especially functionalist styles began to appear. The beautiful surroundings close to what was then the only park in the town attracted the richest of the townspeople to build their houses in the area.
The centre of Žilina craft life was here too, in the House of Artisans, one of the most beautiful buildings in the town. Other notable buildings included the Slovan Hotel and the Gajdoš – Gádor restaurant and distillery, which was designed by one of the most important architects in Hungary, Marcel Komor from Budapest. Architect Komor’s portfolio included, for example, Hungary’s pavilion for the Paris Exposition in Paris in 1900, the Palace Hotel on Rákoci Street, the National Theatre and another 11 public and private buildings in Budapest, Subotica and Oradea. In 1906 he won the competition to design the Bratislava Reduta building in a partnership with Dezder Jakab. It was built from 1913 to 1919 and is now the seat of the Slovak Philharmonic.
The area near the town park also included an inn and stables for horses belonging to the merchant Móric Lililenthal and other houses with numbers 235 and 236. When Lilienthal’s property was put up for auction, the site was purchased by the architect Michal Maximilián Scheer and his wife Hedviga Reissová for 187,100 crowns on 24 April 1937. At that time, Scheer was living in his own house on what is now Ulica republiky built in 1933 but as a very successful architect he had funds to invest and so he decided to build a larger house for his family and studio. His first design envisaged a three-storey house on the corner of Kmeťova Street and the Šrobár Gardens (now SNP Park).
Construction of a three-storey building according to the plans of 10 April 1937 began on 03 May 1937 although the building permit was only issued on 01 June 1937 because of a dispute with the owner of the Slovan Hotel across the road. On 11 May 1937 Scheer changed his plans and raised the building to five storeys. It received its occupancy permit on 24 November 1937.
An interesting feature of the design was that the basement was originally supposed to have an air raid shelter and a gas-proof chamber, but neither was built. Only central heating systems and storage space were installed. The ground floor had two garages, two shops – which are still in use in the present – two offices, a laundry room and a one-room flat for the caretaker. There were two flats on the first floor. One had four rooms plus a room for a maid and two toilets. The other was a fully equipped one-room flat. The second and third floors had the same layout. On the top floor there was a drying room and access to the flat roof. A laundry was added later.
The building contractor was one of the best-known Czech construction firms – Václav Nekvasil of Prague – which had branches all over Czechoslovakia. In Prague, for example, they had built the Koruna Palace on Wenceslas Square, the seats of the Supreme Court and the Legiobanka, as well as the Adria Palace, the YMCA, the Bránik brewery and the Pankrác Prison. Nekvasil’s Třinec branch had already worked in Žilina in 1934, building a four-storey house designed by the architect Kisfalusi of Nové Zámky for Štefan Ďurčanský and his wife Elena at the nearby address Sedláčkov sad 3 (which was demolished after the construction of the PRIOR department store).
Scheer’s house was taken into temporary administration in 1941, national administration in 1945 and returned to Scheer in 1947. At that time there were 9 sub-letting tenants and their families living in the house, which also housed company offices and shops. In 1948 Scheer founded a business Stavoprojekt Žilina and became its first director, operating temporarily from the basement of the house and design offices. Scheer remained the owner of the house after he and his wife moved to Nitra in 1952 until 1962, when the house was nationalised and transferred to the Municipal National Committee in Žilina. It was placed in the care of a housing administration company. A pet shop, Chovprodukt, operated in the retail premises.
The house was returned to the original owners after 1990. Shops still operate on the ground floor and the upper floors are dwellings.
Source: Mgr. Peter Štanský a Milan Novák
It can be visited
■ exterior during a guided tour of TIO Žilina.
Position of the monument on the map: B3