Markus Buxbaum’s House

Národná Street No. 11

The neighbourhood where this house now stands was originally known as Závažie or Na Závaží. It was a neighbourhood of fields, gardens and meadows that the local people cultivated until the end of the 19th century. Then local and outside entrepreneurs began to put up buildings to take advantage of its new lucrative potential. The street that is now Národná ulica had become the link between the railway station and the older buildings of the town. Gradually, at the 19th and 20th centuries, the area acquired hotels, banks, a post office, even factories and workshops. Infrastructure such as water supply, sewers, electricity, roads and paths were installed in 1908–1912. From 1898–1907 there was outdoor gas lighting and residents drew water from their own wells. The works created conditions for the further development of the street and the whole town. Most of the buildings on the street had two storeys or even just one, but by 1937 there were no single-storey houses left. At first the street was called Railway Street, but in 1900 it was renamed in honour of Lajos Kossuth, a hero of the Hungarians. It is interesting that many local inhabitants continued to associate Kossuth’s name with the street in colloquial language until the beginning of the 1960s, just as now many people still associate it with the name of Masaryk.

A three-storey house was built at number 11 in 1900. The builder was the construction firm of Mikuláš Rauter, Augustín DiCento and Ján Silverio, originally from Italy. Mikuláš Rauter was an important builder and architect who built the palace of Ignác Rosenfeld the Žilina banker in 1907. Rauter and his partners built several buildings to sell to new successful owners. In 1904 the new owner of this building was Marek (Markus) Buxbaum, a tavern owner from Terchová. He kept his tavern in Terchová after acquiring this building and in 1911 he became a member of the town council in Zilina ex officio. As one of the highest taxpayers in the town he was entitled to an automatic seat on the council. No major structural changes were made to the building during the First Czechoslovak Republic except that a kitchen was added in the yard in 1925. After Marek Buxbaum died – he is buried in the Jewish cemetery – his widow and his son Gejza continued to live in the house, Gejza having bought out the other heirs. The Buxbaum family’s income came from commerce and hospitality, as well as another house that they owned at no. 9 on the square that is now Mariánske námestie. They owned a pub behind this corner house on Hodžova ulica, which went by the name Lunik in the 1970s.

The building’s original number was 13 and it kept this even after the street went from being named after Kossuth to being named after President Masaryk of Czechoslovakia. Besides its residential function, the house had workshops and shops in the yard. Dr. Arnošt (Arnold) Kellermann had a shop that sold typewriters as well as offering nickel-plating and silver-plating and other modifications of office equipment and car parts. This doctor who did not practise medicine was the descendant of French dukes, a German writer and a general Napoleon’s armies, whose name appears on the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Kellerman rented his premises in the house and lived on Hollého ulica. According to the list of residents in 1938, there were 6 flats in the house with a total of 21 residents, including Gejza Buxbaum’s family. In 1939, as in other Jewish houses, a temporary administrator was appointed to manage the house, collect rent and pay for repairs. From 1939 to 1945 Jewish residents were prohibited to live on this street, which was renamed in honour of the Slovak nationalist Hlinka. In 1942 Gejza Buxbaum, his wife, son, brother and sister were deported to Auschwitz Birkenau, where everybody died but him. He returned to Žilina in 1945 and managed to recover his house after long negotiations. The street was once again named after Masaryk until 1953. It was then named after the wartime Slovak National Uprising until 1990, when it reverted to the name of Masaryk until 1992, since when it has been Národná ulica, which means “National Street”.

On 20 June 1946, qualified pharmacist Tibor Harmoš was granted a licence to open the pharmacy “U Božského srdca” (The Sacred Heart) on the house’s raised ground floor. Harmoš was the house’s national administrator until it was returned to Gejza Buxbaum. Despite Buxbaum’s objections to the establishment of the pharmacy, it went ahead and opened in 1947.  The pharmacy replaced a three-room flat with a door to the street being installed in place of a window. Electricity was installed and the floors were replaced. One original room was kept where the pharmacist lived with his wife, who also worked in the pharmacy. The pharmacy was nationalised on 22 September 1950 and lost its original name. Adalbert Feuermann became the chief pharmacist and was succeeded in 1956–1958 by Ladislav Čarny. In 1958 Marcel Solar was chief pharmacist. The longest serving chief pharmacist was Zdenek Valenta, who managed the pharmacy from 1959 to 1992. The pharmacy was very busy because of its excellent position on the way to the railway and bus stations. It began with an area of around 100 m2. A major reconstruction in 1968–1969 relieved the cramped conditions and created secure storage in the basement, on the ground floor and on the first floor, giving it a total of over 300 m2. It had its own lift linking the three floors, its own goods entrance reached through house no. 7 and a truck, which helped a lot with keeping the pharmacy supplied. The original access to the pharmacy from the street was modified so that it was connected to the main entrance to the building, as it is today. In 1995 the pharmacy’s boiler was modified to use gas instead of solid fuel. The district inspection laboratory was established here in 1976. Every month the pharmacy filled 15,000 to 20,000 prescriptions. In 1989 it employed 7 qualified pharmacists, 4 laboratory technicians and 2 hygiene assistants, making it one of the largest pharmacies in the town. A pharmacy continues to operate in the building today and it is the oldest continuously operating pharmacy in Žilina.

The house was nationalised in 1963 and an administrator was appointed. The building was then acquired by the Obnova Žilina enterprise, which operated a furrier’s shop here. There were still flats on the upper floors. One of them was occupied by the famous Žilina football player Boris Timkanič and his family. Gradually the families that lived here were offered flats in other parts of the town because the Obnova enterprise needed space on the first and second floors for its workshops, a training centre for apprentices and additional space for the furrier’s shop; the pharmacy also took over space from the flats on the first floor. In 1965 and 1966 the municipal enterprise Obnova built a workshop in the yard and reconstructed it in 1972. In 1975 a gas boiler was installed, and central heating was provided throughout the building. In 1982 Obnova carried out a major refurbishment of all the parts of the house not belonging to the pharmacy. In 1990 the organisation of this house with descriptive number 676 was as follows: the basement was divided into two parts, in one of which was the pharmacy’s storeroom and a gas boiler room and in the other was storage space used by Obnova. The pharmacy and the furrier’s shop occupied the raised ground floor. On the first floor, the pharmacy had a storeroom and office and Obnova had a workshop for repairs and manufacturing. The whole second floor was used by Obnova for workshops and its training centre for apprentices. Obnova also had workshops and a cleaning facility for fur coats in the extensions to the house in the yard.

After 1990 the assets of municipal enterprises were transferred to the municipality. The Town of Žilina sold the house to a new private owner. The building is now occupied by commercial premises and offices. In 1994 the house received a new facade and was completely renovated. This Secession house thus took on a new look and is one of the most beautiful buildings not only on Národná ulica but in all Žilina.

Source: Mgr. Jozef Moravčík

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

Position of the monument on the map: C3

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