Ferenc J. Raichl (1869–1960)

He completed his studies in architecture in Budapest in 1891. After that he was visiting European centres and studying the achievements of contemporary architecture. He settled in Subotica in 1895 and married Irma Varga the following year.

Until 1908 he designed a number of family houses and public buildings in the spirit of eclecticism prevailing at that time: the City Casino, the grammar school, the building of the Austro-Hungarian Bank in Subotica, the church in Bačka Topola and others. However, step by step, he started to introduce art nouveau elements into his works (the Međanski mansion, the former houses in the Vase Stajić street, the Council Hall in Apatin). On his (unimplemented) designs for the Subotica synagogue and the City Hall and on the Kohnen Villa in Palić, we can notice distinctive changes likewise his decisive commitment to the new style, i.e. art nouveau.

He was under 35 when he designed his masterpiece, the uniquely creative art nouveau style Raichle Mansion (1904) inspired by the so called Hungarian national style. Although he was an owner of a brick factory and worked at the same time as a construction works contractor (Fernbach Castle, a military barrack), unpaid investments and the high costs of his mansion meant a massive financial burden for him. He went bankrupt in 1908 and moved to Szeged with his family. There he designed four art nouveau style mansions, whereof the grand mansion of dr Arpad Gróf deserves special mention.

Since 1912, he lived in Budapest under the name Bernhausen-Raichle, he designed and painted, but none of his later works excelled.

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The Ferenc Raichl Tenement House
Raichle selected the location for the construction of his mansion and the neighbouring tenement house in an attractive area just opposite the railway station and the recently arranged park. He had disregarded the building’s first, less pretentious design from January 1903 and in a rather short period, designed a unique, art nouveau style house with functional space arrangement and of genuine form.
Both buildings were built at the same time. The construction works lasted for almost two years because the roof tiles and a huge number of façade ceramic decorations were manufactured in Pécs by the Zsolnay factory and also, because of the demanding works in the interior. Raichl used the most updated, high quality materials and worked with the best workshops for wood and rough iron works, mosaics, stained glass windows, glass prism and gypsum reliefs.

Raichl built in his home all his knowledge, creativity and love. He symbolically used the motif of heart, frequent in Hungarian folk art, in each and every detail of the building.
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The Ferenc Raichl Palace
He applied for move in permit on 28 December 1904. He furnished the mansion’s rooms and salons with expensive furniture and artefacts, collected during his long visits abroad.
The incomes from the tenement house and rental of ground floor shops should have provided him additional sources for a comfortable life. Yet, Raichl and his family spent only three years in the mansion. High costs and unpaid contracts drove him to bankruptcy and he had to move out from his home. The mansion was taken over by the bank, which announced its sale and sold all the inventory in an auction. The mansion was bought by Tereza Hartmann, a factory owner, who rented it. Emil Schossberger, the pharmacist, bought the house in early 1930s, however kept the tenants in part of the building.
After World War II the building came under state ownership. In 1948 it had been given to the City Museum, which accommodated the rooms to the needs of its permanent exhibitions. The Modern Art Gallery moved in the building in 1969.
Over the past hundred years several reconstruction works were done on the building. The first comprehensive restoration of the roof and the two facades was made between 2003 and 2005 and after that the building regained its original radiant beauty.

This outstanding work of the Art Nouveau style was listed as a cultural monument in 1973.

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