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Building History: The First Savings Bank of Debrecen

The Debrecen Cultural Center building on the corner of Piac and Kossuth Street once housed the city’s oldest financial institution, the First Savings Bank of Debrecen. 

The financial institution started its operation in a small shop leased in the town hall in 1846 and later acquired the properties of the neighbouring buildings on the corner of Piac and Kossuth Street in 1868. The acquisition included the two-story “Táncos Kovács” House, the Auer House, and the Radl house.

The bank outgrew its two-story “Táncos Kovács” headquarters shortly thereafter and designed an impressive three-story palace to replace it. 

The palace was built in Art Nouveau style designed by the architect Kálmán Rimanóczy Jr. and in accordance with the prevailing fashion of the time. The stucco and the statues on the façade were made by the sculptor Sándor Somogyi. The reliefs on the Piac Street facade showcase industrial, commercial and farm work. Its old copper portal was made in a famous Berlin workshop, and the interior earthenware was supplied by the famous Zsolnay factory in Pécs. 

The customer space was located on the ground, while office flats and offices were on the first floor. Just like in the old house, the corner shop was set up by Kornél Kontsek for a clothing store. A casino and seventeen luxury rental apartments moved to the first floor of Kossuth Street. The buffet was connected by an elevator to the cellar restaurant and the beer hall.

In 1914 the roof and corner tower were destroyed by fire. During the restoration, the special roof was replaced by standard shapes, and an open, circular bastion-like tower was built instead of the close tower.

In 1951 the house was taken over by the state. The client space was leased by the Army for the purposes of the Officers’ Club. The casino was turned into a cultural centre, a Podium room and a youth club.

Over the years the bourgeois flats were broken down into smaller parts. Changes were made to house a school for nurses. The attic was crowded with one-bedroom apartments with external toilets. In 1963, there was again fire in the attic, which also destroyed the (second) corner tower.

In 2004 restoration work was carried out repairing and repainting the facade and the symbols of the financial institution it used to house were stripped away. Today, it is the seat of the Debrecen Cultural Center hosting a range of cultural events each year.

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