When I was little, my mother told me how her grandmother used to take her for visits to her friends who lived in a villa in Hradešínská Street in Prague's Vinohrady, located in close proximity to Bezručovy sady and the Grébovka Park. Places that seem to have been created for historians, artists, poets and dreamers. All those easily forget that we live in the 21st century when walking through these parts...
All you have to do is close your eyes and, like Oldřich Nový in what was perhaps the most famous First Republic film Kristián, leave. At least in thought, travel more than a hundred years into the past. Back to the times when Vinohrady was a green hill, where the cream of society loved to stroll, enjoying the view of the historic centre of Prague. To the times when gentlemen greeted the ladies by taking off their hats. To the days of corsets, top hats and gloves, slicked back hairstyles, moustaches and beards.
The owners of the villa were my grandmother's acquaintances, I don't remember the name anymore. An influential family of an architect, with lots of connections and acquaintances. In short, the First Republic’s upper class. The father, the head of the family, was a renowned architect in his time. He designed several prominent houses in the First Republic era Prague (including the cadet school in Hradčany and several breweries). And he even lived in one such house in Hradešínská Street with his wife and four children.
This villa with unique wooden facade elements has always remained in possession of this family. It has never been sold, the owners got it back in restitution. And now it's for sale for the first time. With nostalgia, I look back at all the stories from my grandmother's tales that come to life before my eyes. I can’t help but wonder, who will become the owner of this villa?
The new owner will definitely be an esthete, who can appreciate the charm of First Republic architecture. Art Nouveau villas from the beginning of the last century have an extraordinary charm. And a strong genius loci. Above all, they reflect the lifestyle of their former inhabitants. Rich factory owners, for example, had maids in their households. For this reason, First Republic villas include not only spacious entrance halls, living rooms and multiple bedrooms, you also tiny rooms and chambers in which the servants slept.
The magnificent villas also featured large libraries and gentlemen's studies. The ladies, on the other hand, had conversations over a cup of tea or coffee in the boudoir. The bedrooms typically sported a large bed with a distinctive headboard, a dressing table and a chest of drawers. The walls of Art Nouveau villas were decorated with valuable paintings and other design pieces. Also common were cabinets built all the way up to the ceiling, furniture dividers, folding beds, folding tables and seats, storage walls and hat hangers. And metal furniture.
The period of the First Republic has its own unique charm. At least it’s portrayed that way in old black and white movies. Let us mention the famous quote from the film Kristián "close your eyes, I'm leaving" one more time! Oldřich Nový, classy under any circumstances, and Adina Mandlová with her perfect hairstyle and make-up, donning luxurious gowns... It’s true that the comedies from this era were more like fairy tales for adults, but that doesn’t change the fact that the upper class didn’t have a bad life back then. In 1931, for example, there were 909 people with an annual income of over one million CZK living in our country.
Getting one’s own house or apartment was also relatively easy back then. At that time, new homes were built with hefty state support, thanks to which even the middle class could afford an apartment or a house. Famous architects lived next door to writers, journalists and entrepreneurs. All you had to do was make a deposit and repay the rest over time. That was also how the Svoboda villa colony in the vicinity of the aforementioned Hradešínská Street was built.
Needless to say, First Republic villas are nowadays considered unique in every sense of the word. Like the painting of Mona Lisa, a jewel-studded with diamonds, or the Ferrari we’ve mentioned in the title of this article. However, a First Republic villa is also a great investment opportunity. And a prestigious property to won. In short, an absolute gem.
Times have changed since then. My grandmother is no longer alive, but the memories will stay with me forever. I will never forget the hope with which my grandmother looked to the future and how excited she was about everything I would get to experience. Sometimes I get a little nostalgic when I think about her, and tonight I dreamed about who might buy the villa where she’d made so many beautiful memories in her youth.
I hope it’s going to be someone who knows the value of money and understands that a "brand" villa is always a limited edition. The places where people used to live in the First Republic era are considered rare gems today. Just like the villa from my grandmother's memories.