319 - Ferdinandova Street as seen from Mottl’s House and from the start of Ovocná Street
On the right one can see the palace of the mortgage bank and on the left the elongated front of the palace of the Porges von Portheim family, No. 37. The latter structure was built at the end of the 18th century by I. J. Palliardi by reconstructing three mediaeval houses. On the left side of the picture we can see the only structure still extant. In winter 1799-1800, during Napoleonic wars, the famous Russian military leader A. V. Suvorov stayed in this building. Behind the Palace stands no. 38, which was replaced in the 1930s by a Functionalist administrative building with a passage linking Ferdinandova and Charvátova Streets. The next building on the corner of Charvátova Street, No. 39-40, is a two-storey structure with a Baroque facade which was also replaced in the 1930s by a modern building, in this case a residential plus administrative building (today No. 40). On the opposite corner we can see part of a building with a small prismatoid tower, No. 58, which was, in the 1920s, replaced by the Chicago building, still extant. The original intersection of Charvátova and Ferdinandova Streets was blocked by these two new buildings, and the access to Ferdinandova Street is now through a passage. The row of buildings ends with No. 61, the Šlik Palace, of which we can see the side wall (in the background).
COLOURED PHOTOTYPE. PROBABLY LEDERER & POPPER, AROUND 1902
320 - The Neo-Renaissance building of the former Mortgage Bank
On the corner of Ferdinandova and Perlová Streets, Nos. 365 and 1020, built in the years 1865-1866 by I. Ullmann on the site of an older, one-storey structure. When this picture was taken, this bank was already relocated in its own building at Senovážné Square, and the corner building was gradually adapted to residential and commercial purposes. It was owned by the businessmen Czumpelik and Schneider who ran a fashion shop here. The building also housed (probably in the courtyard) a factory for brass furniture owned by H. Gottwald which was documented in 1930, though one cannot rule out its existence here even earlier. The middle of the three old buildings on the left was replaced in the 1920s by a modern structure which today houses the printing house of F. B. Batovec, which continues in the tradition begun by the house of this name in the second half of the 19th century. In the foreground we can see an interesting configuration of two gas lamp-posts, an advertising cylinder, and a soda kiosk.
321 - The monument Czech leader J. Jungmann, and the building of the insurance company Riunione Adriatica di Sicurta
The monument to the 19th century Czech leader J. Jungmann, and the building of the insurance company Riunione Adriatica di Sicurta (later Adria), new No. 36, on the corner of Ferdinandova Street (by this time renamed Národní) and Jungmannova Street. The previous building on this site was an older palace of approximately the same size, remodelled after 1806 in Neo-Classical style for the bishop of Passau (Germany), L. L. Thun. Upon its demolition the Italian insurance company built its Prague headquarters here in the years 1923-1925 in a style reminiscent of Italian Renaissance palaces. The structure, adorned with imposing statues, was based on the design of P. Janák and J. Zasche. In the following decades the building housed many different offices, firms and institutions. The best known of these was the J. Barhoň Company specialising in the sale of cloth. This firm occupied the whole corner section of the ground floor. The second storey housed a Film Club and café, and from the 1960s the world-renowned Laterna Magika.
322 - Ferdinandova Street as seen from the opposite angle to that in picture 319
On the left we can see building No. 417, replaced in 1905 by an Art Nouveau commercial plus residential building with a passage to Martinská Street. Behind it there is a long front of the spacious residential building Platýz, No. 416. The originally Gothic palace with its front facing Uhelný trh Square, was reconstructed in the 16th century for one J. Plateys. Its Neo-Classical remodelling took place in the years 1817-1825 when the structure was extended, adapted into a residential building, and provided with a new front facing Nové aleje (New Alley). 1847 saw the final reconstruction of this building complex by the extension of its main front towards the newly built western wing. On the right we can see structures from the original New Town building, but with remodelled facades: looking from right to left, we first see the Renaissance gabled building, No. 59, replaced in the 1930s by a Functionalist structure, today the location of V. Špála gallery. The projection, with its little prismatoid tower on No. 58, hides from us the entrance to Charvátova Street. This building was later replaced by the Chicago building.
323 - The middle of Ferdinandova Street, as seen from the intersection with Mikulandská Street facing east
This interesting picture of the then still narrow Ferdinandova Street helps us to trace the individual stages of its broadening. The first stage had already taken place with the demolition of the corner building No. 115 at the intersection with Spálená Street, which used to stand aslant and therefore obscured the protruding Šlik Palace, No. 61 (in the centre). The newly built structure with its corner tower, as well as the simultaneously constructed Louvre Palace, No. 116, were already situated on the newly established street line. This also holds for the new building, No. 117, dating from the 1920s, constructed on the site of the two-storey older structure (second on the right). The 1950s saw narrowing of the pavement in front of the Baroque Schirnding Palace, No. 118 (on the right), and the establishment on the ground floor of an arcade. The other side of the street saw removal of the original street line, leading to a broadening of the street: first by demolition of building No. 1022 in the 1920s, and then by demolition of the Brauner house with its Union Café, No. 342, in 1949. Narrowing of the pavement and establishment of an arcade also took place on this side of the street in front of the present-day metro Palace. Demolition of the Šlik Palace in 1937 effected the substantial broadening of the street in the section between Spálená and Jungmannova. It was in this area that the Velvet Revolution of 1989 was sparked off by the clash of police with demonstrating students.
324 -The Louvre Café on the second storey of new No. 116 on Ferdinandova Street
This was originally the site of a mediaeval building which in 1421 housed the mint. In 1786 the site was used for construction of the Kernský House, also known as the Old Riding School which was replaced in 1902 by a building designed by F. Buldra. The Café has, characteristically for that time, advertising signs in Russian and French, perhaps in order to lure guests from countries whose political sympathies the patriotic Czechs sought for their anti-Austrian efforts. The cunning of A. Pelz, the owner of the Café, is reflected in his publicity postcard in which he had names of all the other firms housed in the ground floor of the building airbrushed out of the picture. The clients of this Café were predominantly Czech, and it was especially visited by lovers of chess.
COLOURED PHOTOTYPE. A. PELZ, 1907
TRADITIONAL BIG COFFEE-PALACE FOUNDED IN 1902
The Café Louvre on today’s Národní Avenue, which was opened in 1902, has always belonged to the first rank of Prague’s cafés. Today, you can still ascend the spacious staircase with its walls clad in marble with its Secessionist iron handrail, decorated with stylish mistletoe twigs, to the café on the first floor. There, visitors used to be welcomed by "the great world’s beauty, emphasized by impressive electric globes” and a "black man in a tailcoat". Rooms facing the then Ferdinand’s Avenue through through their large windows with round window frames also included the neighbouring building, facing Spálená Street, so the resulting impression of space was quite magnificent. Abundant natural light, numerous mirrors, fine pastel shades of the walls and light furniture emphasised this feeling.
The Café Louvre was visited by many world-renowned celebrities and several associations and organisations were established here. For example in the year 1925, the Čapek brothers founded the Czech "Pen Club". In the year 1910, the “Sursum” art association was formed here. Franz Kafka used to visit with his friends, and so did Albert Einstein during his stay in Prague in 1911--1912.
The Café’s life was forcibly interrupted by the communist coup in 1948 – its interior fixtures were flung out of its windows down into the street outside. Its cultural melting pot tradition was only revived by the café only after the year 1992 when its devastated premises underwent a major reconstruction.
The Café was thus reopened, including the billiards hall. The premises, with their ceiling and wall decorations dating back to the 30s of the previous century, are, however, presented in a somewhat modified appearance.
At the western end of the main room, a smaller space has been separated, today serving as a saloon, and one of the rooms where billiards used to be played, now serves as a restaurant. Just like a hundred years ago, the Café Louvre opens as early as eight in the morning, which is rather unusual in today’s Prague, and it is a very popular place for both local inhabitants as well as visitors to the city.
Národní 22, Prague 1, 110 00
325 - A view of Ferdinandova Street from the corner of Uršulinská Street, looking towards Ovocná Street
On the right we can see the Wallis Palace, No. 138, with two balconies, a cast-iron railing and two corner advertisements, one for a tailor of military uniforms, and the other for Mr Suchánek, a seller of cameras. On the left, where we can see a row of seven buildings, there still stood in around 1830 a low, ground-floor structure surrounded by gardens. Most of the buildings in the picture date back to approximately the middle of the 19th century, with the exception of the first structure on the left, erected here in 1861, No. 313, and the sixth structure from the left, built in 1870, No. 961, both still extant. The remaining structures were subject to two phases of demolition. On the site of the fourth and fifth structures three new buildings were erected in 1912-1914, probably designed by B. Hypšman. In the period 1928-1929 the remaining two lots were used for construction of residential and administrative buildings. Thus, e.g., No. 984 was used as the headquarters of a British insurance company, and as the premises of V. Chaura’s numismatic shop, while No. 981 housed Štenc’s graphic workshop.
326 - A view along Ferdinandova Street
From the entrance to the Šlik Palace on the corner of Spálená Street, looking towards the National Theatre, in a direction opposite to that of picture 323. In the foreground we can see the then narrowest section of Ferdinandova Street, where tram lines were laid in the immediate neighbourhood of the pavements. This clearly shows why it was essential to broaden the street. The tram line did not yet connect Spálená Street with the National Theatre, although the adaptation of the opposite corner had already made it possible to establish this line. The gentleman on the left is apparently heading for the Vilímek bookseller’s, housed on the ground floor of the Šlik Palace. In 1848 it was remodelled in the English Neo-Gothic style, and it remained essentially unchanged until its demolition in 1937. On the right, on the corner of Na Perštýně Street, we can see the Early Neo-Classical Brauner building, No. 342, with the legendary Union Café on the second storey (it was demolished in 1949).
COLOURED PHOTOTYPE. 1904
327 - Ferdinandova Street from the intersection with Mikulandská Street towards the Ursuline Convent and Church
On the left we can see two Neo-Classical buildings: the three-storey Hartman House, No. 137, whose site, since demolition of the building in the 1960s, is still empty, and the Wallis House of 1845, No. 138, on the corner of Uršulinská Street, replaced in 1928-1930 by the Dunaj Insurance Company building which was designed by A. Foehr. The street line was also shifted here in order to link it up with the line of the front of the Convent, and to make a broadening of the street possible. The Church, with its two convent wings, belonged to the Ursuline Order, founded in Italy in 1536. The Ursuline nuns came to Prague in 1655 and used the site, originally the location of a large structure owned by Count Příchovský and of six other buildings, for a construction of the Convent (in the period 1674-1676) and of the Church (in the years 1699-1704), based on the designs of M. A. Canevalle. A curious feature of the Church is that its main facade is on the side.
328 - Praha Insurance Company Building in Ferdinandova Street, No. 1011, opposite the Ursuline Convent
The structure dates back to the 1860s, and its original appearance can be partly seen in picture 331. It was, together with the adjacent Topič Building, erected on the site of the former Ellenberg brickyard and lime works, and in 1903-1906 remodelled in the Art Nouveau fashion to the design of O. Polívka, with the assistance of the renowned sculptor L. Šaloun. Praha Insurance Co. was, in its own words, a company mutually insuring capital and income. This meant that all its net profit was distributed among its insured clients. In 1901 this profit amounted to 117 thousand crowns. In the same year the company had 19 thousand members with insured capital amounting to 40 million crowns. This and the neighbouring building are excellent samples of the Art Nouveau work of the architect O. Polívka. The display window of Chmel’s eatery (at the furthest right) was used by the avantgarde photographer F. Drtikol for the exhibitions of his works.
329 - The courtyard of building No. 961 in Ferdinandova Street
The original walled moat in front of the Old Town fortification was filled in some time in the late 1830s and a garden was established here. The buildings in the picture are the first structures built on this site. Buildings protruding into Ferdinandova Street were demolished and replaced in 1870 by a Neo-Renaissance palace (see picture 323). Original buildings on the courtyard side were preserved until the 1920s. The period 1925-1931 saw here a construction of a modern passage with a roofed hall (a ferroconcrete frame construction with glass). This construction activity was linked with a modernisation of the street side of the building complex, such as creation of arcades. The small houses in the courtyard housed several firms, among others the pyrotechnical workshop of J. Böhm, whose employees pose here for the photographer with the firm’s products, which would be used for some firework display. Today we can see on this site a passage of the Metro Palace.
PHOTOGRAPHIC POSTCARD. AROUND 1910. Z. REACH, 1920s
330 - The building of the Topič Art Workshop in Ferdinandova Street, No. 1010, next to Praha Insurance Company
The originally Neo-Classical building, dating back to the 1860s, was remodelled in the period 1903-1906 in the Art Nouveau style by O. Polívka. The relief decoration of the front (a painter, a woman model, a writer and a philosopher) emphasizes the many-sided mission of the firm. Topič, one of the foremost Czech publishing houses and bookshops, also had its own exhibition hall, combined with the sale of art works. The exhibitions took place on 250 square metres of space and on display were as many as 1,000 originals and art reproductions of paintings, statues and other works of leading Czech and foreign artists. The 1903-1906 reconstruction also included a modernisation of the interior: the building was furnished with central heating, with freight elevators and with up-to-date ventilation. A further two reconstructions took place later.
AUTOTYPE. F. TOPIČ, 1908
331 - Beginning of Ferdinandova Street at the National Theatre
The two Neo-Classical buildings on the left in front of the theatre, Nos. 1370 and 1369, were built in the 1840s by the well-known construction entrepreneuer J. Chaura (also spelled Kaura) in a part of the premises of the Ursuline Convent garden. These buildings were demolished in 1970 in connection with the increase of the technical operations of the theatre and the subsequent construction of a complex of new buildings, including the New Scene, a rehearsal studio, an administration building, restaurant, etc. On the right we can see No. 1011, still with its Neo-Classical appearance, prior to the Art Nouveau remodelling. On the ground floor we can still see the F. Topič bookshop, which in seven years time moved into its own building in the neighbourhood. Another building, No. 1009, will be built for the Czech Savings Bank in Neo-Renaissance style on the site of a large section of the Ellenberg brickyard and lime works. Its construction occurred in two stages: the first in the years 1858-1862 (I. Ullmann), the other in 1894-1896 (F. Schachtner). Today it houses the Czech Academy of Sciences.
PHOTOTYPE. E. SCHMIDT, DRESDEN - BUDAPEST, 1899
332 - The National Theatre
On the corner of Ferdinandova Street and the Riegrovo Embankment as seen from the new Emperor Franz bridge. This symbol of Czech patriotism was built using money collected by all social classes of the Czech nation. The Neo-Renaissance structure was built on the site of a former salt-house in the years 1868-1881 by J. Zítek, who also included in the complex the older structure of the temporary theatre (at the furthest right). The theatre was opened by a performance of B. Smetana’s opera Libuše on June 11, 1881 in honour of the wedding of the Austrian Crown Prince Rudolf and Stephanie. After the thirteenth performance, while the final finishing touches were still to be put to the construction, the National Theatre burned down. However, thanks to a new nationwide collection, the theatre was quickly restored on the basis of a modified design by J. Schulz and reopened on November 18, 1883, likewise with a performance of Libuše. The total costs of the two stages of construction amounted to 3.3 million guldens (even the Emperor contributed 20 thousand guldens). Paintings and sculptures, which are part of the decoration of the theatre, were created by such renowned artists as F. Ženíšek, M. Aleš, J. V. Myslbek, V. Hynais and B. Schnirch.
LACQUERED COLOURED COMBINED PRINT. D. KOSINER & CO., 1908
333 - The Lažanský Palace
On the corner of Ferdinandova Street and Františkovo Embankment: a view from the new Emperor Franz Bridge. The Palace was built in the years 1861-1863 by I. Ullmann in French Neo-Renaissance style on the site of the abolished Agnes of Bohemia Hospital of the Knights of the Cross, and on the site of a part of the former Ellenberg brickyard and lime works (a leading Bohemian producer of high-quality lime). Unusually for its time this modern palace combined residential and commercial functions. The ground floor housed, from 1881, the legendary Café Slavia, in the period between the two world wars and in the 1960s one of the chief social centres of the Czech intelligentsia. The second storey housed the offices of the First Czech Life Insurance Company. In the years 1868-1869 the Palace was the domicile of B. Smetana. After 1990 the Café was closed for a number of years, but following its renovation it was reopened in 1997.
PHOTOTYPE. UNIE PRAGUE, AROUND 1910
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