The rescue of the protected monument, Grossmann Villa, in Ostrava has been completed.

27/3 2024

The architectural gem of Ostrava, Grossmann Villa, will soon welcome its first visitors. The comprehensive process of rescuing the protected monument villa has concluded, preceded by extensive restoration work initiated at the end of 2021. 

The rescue of the protected monument, Grossmann Villa, in Ostrava has been completed.

Grossmann Vila after extensive restoration work. Photo: Lukáš Kaboň

The structure was infested with woodworm, experiencing leaks, and over the preceding decades, various alterations had been made not only to the interior but the dominant staircase of the building was also removed. František Grossmann designed the villa as his family and business residence, and within the context of the former Moravian Ostrava, it boasted numerous merits, from its architectural design to exceptional furnishings and generously conceived gardens.

Over the past decades, the villa has endured not only the passage of time but also unprofessional interventions. It was utilized for residential purposes and later served as an educational facility. Throughout the years, building suffered neglect, which inevitably affected its condition, and was saved at the last moment. During the reconstruction, significant damage caused by woodworm infestation was discovered. I have immense respect for the professionalism demonstrated by all involved in the villa's rescue. They meticulously restored the beauty of its unique elements that were preserved and diligently engaged in processes for the restoration and replication of elements where preservation was no longer possible. I wish to extend my gratitude to all who contributed their expertise and efforts to save this exceptional historical structure. Ostrava, beyond its frequently visited industrial landmarks and popular zoo, will now offer a new tourist destination, no doubt appreciated not only by enthusiasts of history and architecture. Grossmann Villa will enrich the portfolio of intriguing sites worth visiting and exploring within the city," stated Jan Dohnal, Mayor of the city.

František Grossmann commissioned the construction of the villa, serving as the prestigious headquarters of his architectural firm, between 1922 and 1924. (The construction of the new building was authorized by a building permit issued on September 15, 1922, and it was officially approved by a decree on March 28, 1924). The building attracted attention for its luxurious design and unconventional architectural solutions. The house was surrounded by a garden with exotic trees, sculptural decoration, a gazebo, a pool and a fountain.

František Grossmann's Villa is one of the few larger-scale residences constructed in Moravian Ostrava during the first half of the 1920s. Despite the changed circumstances in the country after 1918, the villa cannot deny the strong influence of Vienna on the Ostrava region. It integrates into its surroundings with a classicizing architectural style, incorporating elements of decorative art, which emphasizes articulated mass composition. This is evident in the door and window frames, cornices, the treatment of projections and gables, accentuated by finely crafted embellishments and complemented by other figurative artworks. The uniqueness of the structure lies in its connection to the adjacent administrative building, seamlessly integrated into the urban design. Together with the garden, the entire complex transcends the previously somewhat provincial environment of Moravian Ostrava," explained the project architect, Daniel Vaněk.

Curator of Grossmann Villa, Tomáš Rusek, briefly commented on the personality of the builder and his story: "František Grossmann was born on August 3, 1876, in Pustějov. He acquired the fundamentals of the construction trade from his father, who was a master mason. After studying at the master school affiliated with the German Industrial School in Brno, he established himself as an independent builder in Frýdek. In 1906, he relocated to Moravian Ostrava and joined forces with an architect František Fiala. The company then realized numerous construction projects in the Ostrava region, with the most valuable ones being the completion of the Church of Our Lady Queen in Mariánské Hory, the House of Catholic Craftsmen, and the private sanatorium of Dr. Leopold Klein. Those interested will of course learn further details during the planned tours of the monument."

 The fairytale palace," as the contemporary press dubbed it, brought joy to František Grossmann and his family for a mere ten years. Due to the economic crisis and financial difficulties, the builder chose voluntary departure from life in 1933. Subsequently, the villa was acquired at auction in 1937 by the Moravian Mortgage and Agricultural Bank in Brno. In March 1939, the house was purchased by Elizabeth and Josef Ryba. Josef Ryba served as the director of the manufacturing enterprise Eternitas in Moravian Ostrava. After the end of World War II and Ryba's departure from the company's management, the family sold half of the house to the Pišt family in 1958. Then, in 1964-65, the villa was acquired by the municipal national committee for the purpose of establishing a kindergarten and later an after-school program. These facilities vacated the dilapidated house in 2005.

The reconstruction project of the building was prepared by PPS Kania company and architect Daniel Vaněk with utmost effort to restore the villa to its original layout and valuable features. The design was subordinate to the intention of restoring the cultural monument with minimal intervention into the layout, shape, and structural system of the building. The restoration of the monument was carried out by MORYS company. Restoration work was part of the villa's renovation, overseen by reputable companies with years of experience in the field. The total cost of the reconstruction exceeds 132 million Czech crowns including VAT. The monument is not yet furnished with period furniture, which will be acquired subsequently. However, visitors can already admire architectural elements, restored stained glass windows, decorative painting, stucco decoration on ceilings with gilding, wooden paneling, built-in furniture, and vividly colored wallpapers," added Břetislav Riger, Deputy Mayor for Investments.

The complete reconstruction of the protected monument was described by the Executive Director of MORYS company, Jiří Šmidák: "The main construction works included the restoration of all preserved valuable architectural elements constituting an integral part of the building. All repairable parts were restored, while irreparable ones were replaced with replicas. The primary goal of the restoration was to achieve the original appearance of the villa at the time of its completion. Earthworks were carried out, along with comprehensive microwaving sanitation before the start of construction works. Prior to the roof reconstruction, temporary roofing of the entire structure was installed using scaffolding and sheeting to prevent any leakage into the building. As part of the roof reconstruction, the metal covering and wooden formwork were removed, the infested roof structure was assessed, and the infested roof elements were replaced. The entire roof was cleaned, stripped of coatings, and treated with impregnation against wood-destroying pests. The roof structure was composed identically to the original state. New roofing tiles were made of double-layered ceramic tiles with a dark brown glazing finish with a matte gloss. Copper roofing was installed above the apse and the tower's polygonal projection. All roofing and flashing structures on the main building and the gazebo were made from the same material."

Significant role in the restoration of the protected monument was attributed to the period photographs, which aided builders and restorers in the renovation process. All artistic and restoration work, including refurbishing carpentry elements (windows, doors), restoring the outdoor historical shutter system, replicating the original staircase in the hall that was no longer preserved, refurbishing locksmith elements, restoring the original hot air heating system, including the original boiler, restoring stucco decoration, gilding, uncovering, restoring and reconstructing wall paintings, replicating non-preserved ceramic fireplaces and chimneys, as well as refurbishing and replicating original claddings and tiles, among others, were carried out by the ARCHATT company, specializing in monument restoration for over 30 years. The company has been involved in various restoration projects such as the roofs and facades of the National Theater and Prague Castle, the restoration of Libušín and castles Lednice, Valtice, and other objects in the Lednice-Valtice area, and many more. The executive of the ARCHATT company, Jan Všetečka, explained the restoration process of the villa in more detail: "All the works we undertook were highly complex, as we often had to derive the shape and size of non-preserved elements solely from black and white period photographs. Replicating the staircase in the entrance hall with all its decorations was particularly challenging. Part of the interior painting did not survive, and it was reconstructed based on photographs and executed using the original painting technique through stencils. The production of replicas of non-preserved fireplaces solely based on photographs was also very complicated, and a real challenge was replicating parts of the original claddings that were not preserved. The production of cladding and tile replicas required months of preparation, mold production, and endless firing tests of various glaze types."

One of the most significant features of Grossmann Villa is undoubtedly its colorful stained glass windows, which adorn the historical monument throughout. Almost every room is enriched by this type of decorative element, enhancing the building's unique atmosphere. Prior to the reconstruction, only faint traces of their original appearance could be discerned in the frames where the stained glass windows were supposed to be located. Here, too, period photographs played a crucial role, serving as the sole evidence of the existence of specific mosaics, including the most iconic ones on the first floor. This delicate work was undertaken by the restorers of, a company specializing in this field for over thirty years, and contributing to numerous projects. Among them we can find, for example, the restoration of the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul in Brno, the Municipal Theater in Prostějov, and the Church of St. Maurice in Kroměříž.

Restorer Tomáš Mitvalský, regarding the restoration work on Grossmann Villa, states: "The stained glass windows, or rather what was left of them, were in a catastrophic state, with many no longer existing. Unique garden motifs, likely by Opava painter and occasional stained glass artist Adolf Zdrazil, were captured in black and white photographs. Our work therefore also involved selecting ideal color combinations that correlate with the wall paintings in this room. To be more specific, we had to tranfer the incomplete design from photographs and complete the rest according to imagination. The glass used in some of the stained glass windows was exceptional as well. It was likely custom-made for Grossmann Villa. Thus, our task also included finding glass with a similar structure that would fit the character of the artwork." The process of stained glass restoration has remained unchanged for centuries, respecting the tradition of the craft. After removing the mosaics from their frames, individual glass pieces are disassembled from lead cames, cleaned, and then reinserted into the profiles. This method was also employed by the restorers of during the villa's restoration.

The villa boasts exceptionally well-preserved original wooden elements and built-in furniture, which are still intact to this day. The restoration of individual rooms and their original historic wooden elements was approached with meticulous adherence to conservation principles and guidelines. Prior to the actual restoration of these original interiors, laboratory analyses were conducted on disassembled furniture and elements to determine their original surface finishes. This was done to ensure that in the future, it could be confirmed that the individual elements are entirely authentic, including their newly applied original surface finishes. These surface finishes included oil-based paints (windows, doors, wall cladding, railing of the entrance hall with staircase) and surfaces with polished and lacquered shellac varnish (built-in furniture, wall cladding in the study and dining room, veneered doors, and elements in various rooms).

This difficult task was undertaken by the restorers of the Brno company TABERNÁKL, specializing in the restoration of cultural monuments throughout the country for 32 years In the past, the restorers of this company have contributed to the restoration of UNESCO-listed monuments such as the significant Tugendhat Villa, as well as the Stiassni Villa, Löw – Beer Villa, Jurkovič Villas, and currently, they have participated in the restoration of the interiors of another intriguing object, the Arnold Villa in Brno. Chief restorer Libor Urbánek describes the work: "During the restoration of the individual rooms of the villa, we found that the project's author and the villa's investor, František Grossmann, was an incredibly meticulous individual with a keen eye for detail who insisted on the perfect execution of his designs and realized constructions. Evidence of his precision and attention to detail was found in the completely concealed structural joints of the built-in furniture and elements in the rooms, which we subjected to complete dismantling as part of the construction restoration. Sometimes it took us a long time to figure out how some of these elements were connected. Another small but significant example of his meticulousness was the discovery that in the villa's boiler room, used for heating the building, where the caretaker/stoker moved around with coal carts and a shovel, the corners of the walls were protected by polished wooden corners. Who would design such a thing in a purely utilitarian room? We understand if they were made of metal or sheet metal, but the builder had them made of wood and completely polished. František Grossmann was also a great lover of art and antiques; he certainly admired the castle interiors of the aristocracy of the time. This is evidenced by the discovery of historical parquet flooring in his dark dining room, which was of the same dimensions and had the same laid pattern (double Viennese cross) as the original parquet squares found in the Chamber Hall of the Archbishop's Chateau in Kroměříž, dating back to the turn of the 18th century. Another example of Grossmann's love for art is the design of the interior of the dark dining room itself, where, in addition to the full-area carved wall cladding of the room, the owner had two beautiful dining sideboards installed with so-called mirrored doors. For the inserts of the individual dark doors, oaken burl wood was used, polished in shellac varnish to a very high gloss."

After the extensive renovation, the restored wooden elements were gradually returned to their original places in the individual interiors, including those later discovered and, in some cases, even structurally damaged. One such example is the installation of the original folding glass doors in the winter garden on the first floor of the villa. Additionally, the found decorative structures above the entrances to the adjacent rooms in the social salon with a raised alcove were restored and returned to their original positions.

The garden surrounding the villa was also renovated. As a result of the widening of the street on October 28, the garden lost its part with the pergola promenade and the gazebo, originally located in the corner of the garden, today it stands out from its floor plan. Original plant species were replanted and defined again according to period photographs. Comprehensive landscaping included the planting of trees, shrubs, climbers, flower beds, hedges, and turfing. The garden now features a restored gazebo, pergola, fountain, pond, and flower beds, all carried out by the FICHNA-HUDECZEK company, as well as all outdoor paved areas adjacent to the villa.

The extensive reconstruction has restored the residence to its original appearance from a century ago, reflecting the period of František Grossmann's life. Following the detailed reconstruction, an equally important step is the further life of the protected monument. The villa will be open to the public in the coming weeks with a regular cultural program and guided tours that will acquaint visitors with the story of František Grossmann and his 'fairy-tale palace.' Interested parties will be able to visit the villa for the first time on April 4, 2024. Detailed opening hours and other interesting information about events can be found on the website We have taken inspiration from similar buildings on how best to open the villa to the public, with one example being the Tugendhat Villa. The operation of the villa will be managed by the municipal company Černá louka," concluded Lucie Baránková Vilamová, Deputy Mayor for Culture."