The Villa


This historic villa was built in 1922-1924 by the renowned Ostrava architect and building contractor František Grossmann, combining his family’s home and the offices of his company. Designed in a traditional decorativist style, the villa’s opulence immediately made it a focus of attention. Journalists described its palatial interiors (which included the family’s valuable collections of paintings and porcelain) as “fairytale-like”. The villa’s gardens featured exotic species of trees and shrubs, ornamental sculptures, a gazebo, a pond and a fountain. The house and its gardens were the largest villa complex built in Ostrava between the world wars.

František Grossmann

Born in Pustějov on 3 August 1871, František Grossmann learned the basics of the construction trade from his father, who was a master bricklayer. After studying at the German industrial school in Brno, Grossmann’s career progressed until he established himself as an independent building contractor in Frýdek. In 1906 he relocated to Moravská Ostrava, where he joined forces with the architect František Fiala. The pair rode the wave of a construction boom in the Ostrava region; among the most notable of their numerous projects were the extension to the Church of the Queen of Heaven in Mariánské Hory, the Catholic Journeymen’s Centre, and a private sanatorium run by Dr. Leopold Klein.

A fairytale palace with a tragic history

When Czechoslovakia gained its independence after the First World War, Grossmann decided to build a luxurious villa that would reflect his wealth and social status. The villa was intended not only to represent his personal success, but also to showcase his company’s skills. It may also have been a form of wedding present for Grossmann’s wife Otýlie; the couple married just a week before the villa received its official completion certificate. However, the Grossmanns enjoyed their luxurious new home for less than a decade. Once one of the richest families in the region, they fell into severe debt as a consequence of the Great Depression, and pressure from creditors eventually drove them to the desperate act of suicide. The villa became part of posthumous bankruptcy proceedings.

The further fate of the villa

In 1937 the villa was auctioned to the Brno-based Moravian Mortgage and Agricultural Bank. Amid the turbulent events of March 1939, it was purchased by Josef and Alžběta Ryba, who converted it into a multigenerational home. Like the villa’s original owner, Josef Ryba belonged to the higher echelons of society; he was the director of the Eternitas factory in Moravská Ostrava. After the Second World War he stepped down from the company’s management, and in 1958 the Rybas sold half of the villa to the Pišta family. In 1964-65 the villa was purchased by Ostrava city council, which converted it into a preschool and an after-school daycare centre. The building became increasingly dilapidated, and the daycare centre was eventually closed in 2005.

The future of the Grossmann villa – breathing new life into this historic jewel

Despite the various conversions that the villa had undergone over the years, it still retained many of its original features, and in 1992 it was listed as a cultural monument. The City of Ostrava has funded a complete renovation, which has restored this hundred-year-old jewel to its former glory, recreating the authentic appearance of the villa during Grossmann’s life. In the upcoming weeks, the villa will be opened to the public. Besides functioning as a venue for various cultural events, there will also be a tour route for visitors, telling the fascinating story of František Grossmann and his “fairytale palace”.