On the road to the Bôrik neighbourhood now known as Ulica Vojtecha Spanyola there is a beautiful magnolia tree (Magnolia campbellii) that grows in the garden of a family villa and dominates the entire street. Every April this lonely tree puts on an annual show full of unforgettable colours and aromas. Magnolias, which come from China, take their name from Pierre Magnol (1638 – 1715), the director of the botanical garden in Montpellier in France.
The magnolia was planted by Senator Ján Kovalík when his family villa was newly built. He bought the land for the house in 1926 from the former mayor Ignác Rada, who had been mayor from 1911 to 1918. Building work was completed on 30 July 1930. The villa was built to a design by Vladimír Pojtek of Bratislava by the Žilina architect and builder, František Bednárik. Ján Kovalík built the villa for his daughters Oľga Čerňanská a Klára Jesenská. Oľga had married a teacher who had died young and Klára was the wife of Tibor Jesenský, the head of the District Office in Žilina. He was considered the best civil servant in the region with excellent knowledge of municipal administration; every year his office handled 35,000 cases and he wrote the majority of the office’s texts himself. Villa Magnolia was confiscated by the state after the Second World War and made into the headquarters of the district institute of national health. In 1991 it was returned to the descendants of its original owners.
The Kovalíks were a very important family in Žilina. Ján Kovalík (1861 Ústie nad Oravou – 1950 Žilina) studied at a grammar school in Banská Bystrica and at universities in Vienna and Budapest, where he was awarded a doctor’s degree in philosophy. He worked in Žilina from 1890 until his death. He was a member of the National Assembly of Czechoslovakia from 1918 to 1920 and a senator from 1920 to 1935. He wrote Romantic poetry under the pseudonyms Bohuznámy, Ján K. Oravský, Peter Skala and Ústiansky and published articles on education but he was most successful as a politician.
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: C5