The first houses on the site of the former stronghold in Hradec Králové were built in today’s Komenského Street and in the blocks between Eliščino nábřeží Embankment and ČSA Avenue. Important local architect Viktor Weinhengst asked German architects Rudolf Němec and Bedřich Bendlmayer from Prague, who represented the most progressive scene in the country, to design a representative house for him. Both of them studied architecture under Viennese architect Friedrich Ohmann. On 12 April 1898, Weinhengst filed an application for a building permit, and on 2 May of that year, he received permission to build a new two-storey house with the elevated ground floor on the site no. 11 in block no. 310 at Eliščino nábřeží Embankment in Hradec Králové. The construction began in May 1898.
The owner had to meet several requirements of the contemporary regulation, e.g. the street line, and all the windows and doors were to be opened inside. The regulations also required that no stairs should stretch to the pavement. The pavement was to be three meters wide, along the entire length of the new house, and it was supposed to be connected to the pavements of the adjacent buildings, and the curbs were to be 30 cm wide, mounted on the foundation wall. According to the contemporary custom, the pavement was supposed to be built by the owner.
The vaulted ceiling above the staircase was built using girders and secured walls with wire lath (that are not load-bearing and that are of various wood and plywood construction). The thickness of the gable walls was 1.5 of the brick length, i.e. 45cm. The rough construction should not be plastered for six weeks after the completion to let the walls dry.
The building has a basement, a raised ground floor, and two floors. In the basement, there was a grocery store and a thread shop with necessary facilities; on the raised ground floor and the upper floors, there were two apartments on each floor (i.e. a total of six apartments), each with three rooms, one bedroom, a kitchen, hallway and bathroom with a flushing toilet. The walk-through (as was the custom at that time) living rooms, including the bedrooms, faced the street houses; facility rooms such bathrooms, pantries, etc. faced the yard.
The construction was completed and approved for subsequent use on 2 March 1899. The burgomaster’s office awarded Viktor Weinhengst with a certificate permitting him to use the building from 15 March 1899. The certificate was awarded for the purpose of exemption from the provincial, district and municipal house tax surcharges for 18 years, starting from 15 March 1899, according to the laws.
The building has a significant sgraffito façade. The use of sgraffito and façade murals was characteristic for projects (especially tenement houses) designed by Ohmann and his pupils – see the Central Hotel designed by Ohmann or the Europa (Šroubek) Hotel in Prague designed by Bendlmayer. The two side avant-crops are lined with sgraffito rusticwork and the fields around balconies are decorated with sgraffito acanthuses and vases. The central part of the façade on the elevated basement is decorated with the town crest, the “Hradec Králové” sign, and “L.P. 1898” dating. The middle part of the first floor level has a niche with the statue of Elizabeth of Pomerania. Along the niche, there are sgraffito trees with the inscription “Love the truth, people of Hradec Králové, since the truth prevails”.
Dana Cvrčková, LZL