During our walk, we will set off from the rectory and have the opportunity to follow the gradual development of Jablonec architecture from the baroque through to the interwar period.

The atmosphere of a fin-de-siècle in Jablonec manifested itself unusually strongly. This was caused by the local costume jewellery industry, which had to rapidly respond to the current fashion trends. The local art nouveau has its own specific characteristics and it is therefore not possible to speak of it having a pure form, but a more modern variant of historicism. The focus of the local industry was also subsequently reflected in the architectural designs of the individual buildings, which are distinguished by filigreed facades often with a costume jewellery, metalsmith and glassmaking theme. At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, Jablonec was clothed in new architectural vestments. The prolific Robert Hemmrich (1871–1946), who was the author of the majority of the export houses and factory owners’ villas and with only slight exaggeration can be said to have practically built Jablonec and to have given the city its current day appearance, is especially worthy of attention. We can also see a number of his buildings in Komenský Street which constituted one of the main arteries in Jablonec, as confirmed by the tramline that came into operation in 1900 from Lipová Street via the Peace Square and along Podhorská Street to Novoveská Street at a length of 1.7 km. During the course of our walk, which starts at the rectory, we will be able to see the gradual development of Jablonec architecture from the baroque up to the interwar period.


The former rectory (the 1st stop)

The oldest part of the city is represented by the rectory, the church and the former travellers’ inn, which is now the Golden Lion Hotel [Zlatý lev].

The former rectory dating from the 18th century, but with a neo-renaissance facade dating from the 19th century, is a uniquely preserved late baroque house. It received its current appearance in the second half of the 19th century, when in addition to a new facade the original mansard roof was replaced with the existing hipped roof. Jana and Josef V. Scheybal, significant researchers in the field of ethnography, lived in the building from the 1960s and it now houses the town gallery and information centre. The facility also includes an invaluable set of statues known as Agony [Agónie] in the Garden of Gethsemane and the Parting of Christ and the Virgin Mary [Loučení Krista s Pannou Marií] from 1829 that were probably made for Ferdinand Hübner and his son, yarn traders from Rádlo, by Ignác Martinec. In this case, the source of inspiration was found in the collection of statues in the Garden of Gethsemane at the pilgrimage site in Jiřetín pod Jedlovou.  The statues were transferred to Jablonec due to the serious damage that they had suffered at their original location in front of house number 66 in Rádlo and they thus came to provide the suitable finishing touch to the area of the rectory and the church.

The Golden Lion Hotel [Hotel Zlatý lev], building number 19, was built as a tavern in the middle of the 17th century and as such it is one of the oldest preserved buildings in Jablonec. The building was marked as “combustible” (i.e. made of wood) in a map of the stable cadastral territory (1843). The classicist, stone central and northern wings date from the first half of the 19th century. In 1906, a dogleg staircase to the attic and to the extension of the hotel area, which was probably at least partially built on the basement of the classicist house that had originally stood there (the architect of the extension: Robert Hemmrich), was built in the eastern part of the northern wing. In 1905, consideration was given to the construction of a concert hall for the local choir (Sänger Halle), which would have been situated in the area of the current car park under the hotel. However, the project compiled by Arwed Thamerus (1856–1936) was never realised. In 1935, construction work was undertaken in the attic (Karl Wander), which replaced the single-axis dormer windows and a number of other modifications were also undertaken in the interiors. In 1964, two blacksmith’s forges were discovered during the performance of demolition work. Further structural modifications were undertaken after 1980 (the timbering on the southern part of the slag concrete brickwork was replaced, amongst other things). The stone entry ramp and staircase and the stained-glass windows date from the period of this reconstruction work. The roof trusses and mansard cornices were replaced with replicas during reconstruction work in 2001 and the joist ceilings and other elements in the southern wing were also replaced. The hotel section was then also insulated and fundamentally reconstructed, while an extension was built along the eastern facade and the car park was established on the property to the south of the building.

The opposite building, building number 926 (now the Šenk U Zlatého lva), is a valuable example of neo-stylistic construction within the town. It was built for the liquor merchant Emanuel Lederer in 1884 on the basis of a project compiled by the local architect and builder Franz Hasler (1851–1899). The neighbouring, originally also historicising house, building number 1283, was built in the last quarter of the 19th century and its investor was Joachim Jäger. Its facade underwent fundamental modifications in the spirit of the nascent modernism according to a project by Robert Hemmrich drawn up for Otto and Emma Zimmer at the beginning of the 1920s.

Another example of neo-stylistic architecture involves the vast neo-renaissance house, building number 543, built for Anton Hübner in 1887 by one of the most distinctive architects of the period of historicism working in Jablonec, Franz Hasler.


Alfréd Wünsch’ House of Fashion (the 2nd stop)

The interestingly conceived House of Fashion, building number 2466, is located on a narrow property in Komenský Street and it was built in 1924-25 on the site of an older building for Alfréd Wünsch by Robert Hemmrich in the art deco style that was fashionable at the time.

The tall, yet deep entrance with the nature of a sunken “vestibule” with a polygonal window on the side that stands in contrast to the otherwise symmetrical façade is somewhat atypical. The significantly vertical nature of the art deco house located on a narrow plot of land is emphasised by the decorative frieze that frames the facade.


The Linke House (the 3rd stop)

Gustav Linke’s business and residential building, building number 544, constitutes a remarkable example of contemporary German expressionist architecture (so-called Backsteinexpressionismus).

The house was built in 1929–31 on a corner plot between the current Máchova and Komenského Streets on the site of an older, late classicist two-storey house and its expressively conceived facade follows the course of the two roads. Even though the aforementioned influence of expressionism is distinctively manifest in its formal design, there are also ostensible classicist tendencies that are apparent in the regular grid of the windows or the rhythmization of the facade with its massive compound pilasters invoking a high order. The expressive nature of the facades is also underlined by the use of clinker brick cladding. The period press described the house as the first modern building in Jablonec to include this material, which had undoubtedly been chosen intentionally as protection against the harsh submontane climate. The first, unrealised variant of the project was drawn up by Rudolf Günter (1902–1984) in 1929 and is distinguished by its more conventional, somewhat classicist forms with dominant corner towers. The clinker brick cladding was initially meant to be limited to just the window chambranles and the strips between the windows on the corner towers. In the end, however, the choice was made in favour of a more courageous design with an all clinker brick cladding and an expressively conceived facade. The motive of the tower was preserved, but it was shifted to the middle of the facade facing Máchova Street, while the wing facing Komenského Street with its set-forward balconies is connected to it by an elegant curve. The ground floor was reserved for individual business premises and entry to the building’s residential area, accessible via a staircase and a lift, was through a passage from Máchova Street. The remaining floors were residential and had a practically identical floorplan. Each included 2 luxury flats with three or four rooms. The building has been preserved in a very good condition (with the exception of the parterre which has been fitted with unsuitable plastic display windows) and, along with the Stross Villa in Liberec, it constitutes probably the best quality example of expressionist architecture within the territory of the Liberec Region.


The Town House in Máchova Street (the 4th stop)

The robust corner building, building number 21, was built by the town of Jablonec as rental housing with the Red Cross [Červený kříž] pharmacy on the site of an older classicist building. The building is distinguished by the geometric art nouveau forms that were common in Hemmrich’s work and were based on motifs from the local costume jewellery industry.  It and the surrounding buildings constitute a valuable architectural unit that speaks to the dynamic development of the town over the course of the first half of the 20th century.

The house, building number 595, was built in 1913 for the exporters Karl and Ernst Scheibler and is quite striking. It was once again built on the basis of a project by Robert Hemmrich and in his characteristic style that fully combined the geometric art nouveau with elements of the modern baroque style. The most fascinating element in the vast building is the sunken, funnel-shaped entrance.

Building number 992 is a good example of refined neo-renaissance architecture. It was built in 1886 for Carl Scheibler on the basis of a project drawn up by Franz Hasler. In 1929, the non-extant parterre underwent modernisation, which gave it an elegant appearance with framed display windows according to a design by Albert Thamerus. The building was also modified and raised to include an extra floor in same period.


The Geling Hotel (the 5th stop)

The former neo-renaissance hotel, building number 446, was built on the site of an older house in the 1880s by Gustav Geling on the basis of a design by Frantz Hasler and Anton Womatschky (the hall). One of the most celebrated Jablonec hotels, where Franz Kafka also spent the night, it was gradually expanded and a further art nouveau building was connected to it in 1902.

In 1902, there was a narrow gap between the hotel and the neighbouring house, building number 24, an art nouveau building built according to a design by Arwed Thamerus. In 1910, Franz Kafka, who had been sent to Jablonec by his employer to explain the advantages of insurance at a public meeting in the local hall, spent the night there. The sumptuous hall, which constituted the most valuable part of the building, was not only used for lectures and balls, but also by the town theatre for dramatic productions. The Geling family sold the hotel to Herman Winkler, the operator of the well-known Winkler cafe in the Liberec Nisa Palace, in 1944. However, it was later confiscated from him after 1945. Between 1951 and 1990, the building was operated by the Restaurace a jídelny state enterprise, which subsequently sold it to the Tourgent cooperative. In the 1990s, demolition work was carried out there, during which the hall’s stage and the business wing in the courtyard were removed. The building was used and modified in a utilitarian manner for the entire 2nd half of the 20th century and as such it figured on the List of the Most Endangered Cultural Monuments of the Czech Republic until 2010. It only managed to be saved thanks to a conversion project and even then at the very last moment.

The neo-renaissance house, building number 23, with a richly preserved set of architectural elements is one of the most valuable examples of historicising architecture within the city. The building’s investor was the exporter and regional politician Eduard Dressler, while the project was drawn up by the builder and architect Franz Hasler, whom we have already mentioned several times.


The Zasche brothers’ house (the 6th stop)

The vast double house, building numbers 493 and 568, was built in 1914 for the metalsmiths Oskar and Ernst Zasche, while the project was authored by the doyen of Jablonec architecture, Robert Hemmrich.

The massive, symmetrically composed house with a business parterre and a pair of robust oriels culminates in a superstructure with a shared gable. From an architectural point of view, the facades include a combination of the waning art nouveau and the baroqueised modernism that was typical for Hemmrich. A number of the original elements have been preserved in the interiors, amongst them the art nouveau lift shaft.   


Jizera (the 7th stop)

The corner art nouveau block of flats, building number 407, (known as Jizera) with the Café Habsburg was built in the style of the geometric art nouveau in 1908 according to a project by Robert Hemmrich. Its dominant position fundamentally influences the centre of the city.

After 1918, the cafe’s name was changed to Café Metzler. The former cafe was located on the first floor and it was highlighted by a long continuous balcony. The entry to the cafe was originally through a sumptuous and demandingly conceived entry to the corner building. The most distinctive structural modification to the building took place in the 1960s, when the art nouveau decorations on the facade were removed, including the original windows and doors (except for the top floor). The original stucco plasterwork was replaced with cement plaster and a glass mosaic. Until recently, only the very top floor and the corner segmented facade (including the decorative art nouveau metalwork), upon which the historical cafe sign originally hung, and the part of the building designated as residential, remained practically unchanged. The interior of the building’s commercial areas was also significantly changed (the floor levels and the carpentry and metalwork elements) during the modifications. The building recently underwent demanding reconstruction work which returned it to its historical appearance.

We will end our short architectural walk at the opposite, visibly exposed and likewise corner house, building number 485, which was built for pro Amelie Gaudek in 1898–1900 by Arwed Thamerus. It is a typical example of the Jablonec art nouveau, which still involves our neo-stylistic town house enlivened with an elegant floral art nouveau decoration, typical masks and also the somewhat unconventional motif of owls.


It was the last stop and you can see from here the Jablonec Town Hall.


The map: