Amazing transformation of the Art Nouveau villa in downtown Osijek
© Damir Janković
January 16, 2021 – An incredible Art Nouveau villa in Osijek, located in the heart of the city center, it took local entrepreneur Branko Ostović almost 10 years to buy the famous ruined Villa Batory. In just 18 months he returned the building to its former glory
Every town has a great old ruin. It is the place where residents come and dream of becoming homeowners. “If I had a million euros I would buy this place, bring it back to its best and live like a king”
Croatia has more of these types of buildings than most. For hundreds of years these lands were ruled by elite European families and royalty who used their considerable wealth to build castles, stately mansions, hunting lodges and villas. After WWII, these buildings were taken over by the state, and for many reasons many fell into disrepair. One of these buildings was Villa Batory, an Art Nouveau villa in downtown Osijek.
What Villa Batory originally looked like, shortly after its completion in 1906
The state of disrepair the villa has fallen into over the past 20 years – it still looked impressive, albeit unloved © Dvorci, utvrde i stari gradovi Facebook / Aleksandra Petrović
For more than 20 years, this incredible Art Nouveau villa in Osijek has remained empty. Prominent on the corner of Radićeva and Reisnerova streets, in the heart of Osijek, the building has attracted admiring glances since its construction in 1906. Even though it was empty and slowly decaying, its impressive towers, intricate stone and plasterwork, and considered architectural details made this Art Nouveau villa d ‘Osijek was never far from the musings of anyone who passed by.
An incredible architectural gem, disappearing until now … © Croatian Heritage Facebook
One of these dreamers was Branko Ostović. Only, being one of Osijek’s successful entrepreneurs, Branko may be faster than many idle dreamers. For him, daydreams just weren’t enough. For almost 10 years, he tried to negotiate the purchase of the Art Nouveau villa in Osijek. Progress has been difficult, given the classified nature of the property, past disputes over the property and the building owned by the local hospital, which had no funds to renovate and needed permission from the State to sell.
Finally, in 2019, Branko Ostović successfully took ownership of the Art Nouveau villa in Osijek. In just 18 months – and a considerable financial investment – he not only halted the decline of the building, but restored its exterior facade so that the people of Osijek could once again be proud, rather than pity, of this central architectural gem. -city. He renamed the villa “Mimi” after his wife, a popular local teacher.
The villa exists in grounds that cover a whopping 3000 square meters. It is a considerable expanse of land, given that it is right in the heart of the city. It was built in 1906 as the director’s villa of Paromlin Union (one of the largest mill factories in the region) by famous Osijek builder Otto Struppi. It is just one of the Art Nouveau gems that can be found in this western part of town.
Throughout his attempts to purchase the building, Branko Ostović had no real business plan on what he could do with the building. Recognized for its architectural value, there are state-imposed restrictions on how any renovation can treat the property. The interior cannot be altered in such a way that the property is better suited to contemporary accommodation. Ostović’s main motivation for buying it was simply to stop the rot and restore it to its former glory.
He has so far invested some 40 million kuna in catering and 5 million kuna in the initial purchase. 95% of the exterior work is complete, although additional investment is needed for the interior. Focused on completing the long-standing project, Ostović still has no clear plans for the building and no potential tenants. He imagines that the Art Nouveau villa in Osijek could make a good home for a polyclinic or a hotel.
All contemporary images of the renovated Villa Mimi © Damir Janković