Grab’s Villa

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Grab’s VillaThe prestigious villa once belonging to Hermann Grab, a Jewish tycoon, is situated to the east of an ancient farm and a former vineyard holding called Košinka. The house was built for an owner and director of the firm M. Grab Söhne by Josef Blecha, a building contractor and architect from Karlín, who took part in the construction of many factory as well as residential buildings in Libeň in the mid-1890s.

The Jewish entrepreneurial family came to Bohemia from Austria around the middle of the 19th century. This side of the family was founded by wholesaler and industrial magnate Moritz Grab (1810–1895), though the most prominent member of the family was his son Hermann Grab (1843–1900), who contributed significantly to industrial development in Libeň. He entered the business in Libeň as a director of the M. Grab synové family operation. Around 1876 he and his brother Josef bought the Košinka farmstead (House No. 106) where he established a large oilcloth factory in 1879–1880. Grab’s imperial and royal leatherette, oilcloth and carpet monopoly factory was the largest of its kind in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy toward the end of the 19th century.

The family villa underwent extensive renovation in 1928–1929 that gave it its present form. The original villa had two fl oors with a smaller ground plan. The renovation included an addition to the second fl oor and the garret and the building were extended north along the entire longitudinal line. The result of the alteration was a twostorey building with a cellar and a garret with pan-and-roll roofing, dormer windows and receding pentiled mansard walls. The massive attic railing with terraces on the second fl oor is decorated with sculptures on the south and west sides. Above the north entrance is a large terrace with a decorative railing with a balustrade and two statues of angels holding lanterns. The richest decorations can be found on the western frontage. High Ionic pilaster orders connect the ground fl oor to the first storey and the whole length of the facade is bordered with a ground terrace with a designed railing and a balustrade decorated with lanterns. The terrace is divided in the middle by a staircase and a buttress creating an entrance (a loggia) to the music room. It is intersected by two high Ionic columns on a square base bearing a second fl oor balcony. Above the columns, on the attic railing, is a richly decorated relief coat of arms with statues as shield bearers. When Emanuel Grab died in 1932, Dr. Hugo Grab became the sole owner of the villa. In 1936, House Number 502 together with the garden and a gardener’s house were rented to the head teacher, Josefina Victoriusová-Mockerová, who established a girls’ home on the site, principally for well-to-do boarders.

Grab’s VillaIn 1939, compulsory administration was imposed on the property of Dr. Max Josef Grab and the inheritance of Dr. Hugo Grab. Under the German occupation the entire real estate was confiscated as Jewish property by the Gestapo and the Reich Protector charged Adalbert Lederer with its administration in 1943.

The building was then used by the Hitler Youth – Hitlerjugend. During the air raid of the allied Anglo-American forces on Vysočany on 25 March 1945, the Košinka farmstead was hit by four bombs. The villa was also partly damaged by bullets during the Prague Uprising, when an exchange of gunfire between members of the Hitlerjugend and Czech patriots took place there. After the Second World War the property of racially persecuted Austrian nationals that was considered alien property was subjected to the national administration without their participation. Based on the decision of Dr. V. Vacek, Lord Mayor of Prague, of 20 July 1945, due to a lack of necessary care for Prague children the villa became a home for children up to the age of three, with a capacity of 100 beds.

The entire property of the Grab family was confiscated as enemy property based on the presidential decrees after February 1948 and the right of ownership was invested in the Municipality of the City of Prague according to the National Property Fund resolution dated 30 December 1949 on the allotment of confiscated property. As of 1 July 1991 the school came under the Ministry of Health. In 2000 the administration of the building devolved on the City District of Prague 8 and the building is now used by the Office of the City District of Prague 8. Grab’s villa houses the housing, property and construction departments. Other areas that frequently find a purpose are the villa’s beautiful representative rooms.

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