Časopis ARS 30 (1997) 1-3


História a architektúra vyšších dievčenských škôl v Hornom Uhorsku
[History and Architecture of the Higher Maiden Schools in Upper Hungary]


The question of the higher education for girls became topical in Hungary after the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867. Organizational concept of the higher maiden schools created by Aladár Molnár aimed to render women with higher level of education that would support their national feeling (Hungarian patriotism) - this way it performed an important part of the overall culture-political conception of the Hungarian state facing the multiethnical character of the country with a programme of its Magyarization. The first school of this type, established by Minister A. Tréfort in Budapest in 1875, had been soon followed by other Hungarian cities. Thus, in 1891, already eighteen schools of the kind existed in Hungary, and among them, five in Upper Hungary (today's Slovakia) - in Trenčín (1877), Levoča (1881), Bratislava (1883), and Košice (1891).

The Higher Maiden School in Trenčín

It had been originally founded in 1870 as a private maiden school, and reorganized in 1877 in accordance with the newly adopted conception. As the old premises soon appeared as insufficient, the construction of the new school- building started in 1906, according to the plans designed by Budapest architects Ambrus Orth and Emil Somló. The works executed by the local engineer Ödön Bleuer were supervised by the royal engineer Jenő Váradi.

The school consisted of three parts: the main block containing school and boarding house, gymnasium, and a special pavilion for deceases (non-existing anymore). The disposition was dominated by the symmetry, with centrally placed porch and vestibule, and corridors running along the side wings. Regular rhythm of rectangular windows conditioned the calm and harmonious appearance of the facades. In his comparatively conservative designs, A. Orth used to transform decorative elements of Viennese origin - here, e.g. the elements of the upper part under the cornice. As opposite to the ornamented front facade, the courtyard elevations became quite simple, enlivened with arched windows of the staircase.

The Higher Maiden School in Levoča

The school was founded in September 1881. Also here, the need for the new premises soon arose, and the construction of the new school-building became a part of the broader town-planning concept dealing with the new square in front of the Upper Gate, outside the city walls. The Higher Maiden School was executed in 1901-1903 by local buildmasters János Gasch and Miksa Müller, according to the plans designed by Sándor (Alexander) Baumgarten.

The structure consisting of two wings, forming T in the plan, turns with its broad facade to the north, thus performing one of the fronts of the newly created square. With class-rooms in the frontal wing, and boarding house and gymnasium oriented to the courtyard in the south, the architect developed suitable disposition. The main facade was still dominated with the symmetry, with accentuated central part, yet it appeared very lively due to the fine Secessionist curvilinear patterns of the decoration combining the ceramic tiles with the plain plaster surface. The principles of this arrangement as well as some other elements (e.g. the dormer windows made similar to helmets) point to the impact Baumgarten had experienced while working with Ödön Lechner.

The Higher Maiden School in Bratislava

The school, founded in 1883, inherited the premises of the former Industrial-teachers' Educational Institute. This solution, however, soon showed itself as insufficient for the needs of the maiden school with a boarding house, despite the renovation of the building in 1894. Therefore, another extensive reconstruction followed in 1909 - 1911, according to the plans by Zsigmond Herczegh.

The three-storeyed building, L-shaped in the plan, contained the school premises and a boarding house placed in different storeys, but lacking such a consequent differentiation as we could observe in Levoča. The arrangement and decoration of the main facade shows combination of some Secessionist details of Viennese flavour with Eclectic elements transforming historicist patterns.

The Higher Maiden School in Košice

Although founded in 1883, until 1896, the school had been temporarily accommodated in the building of different purpose. After the building plot had been allotted by the city in 1891, architect Gyula Pártos was commissioned to prepare the plans of the school and the boarding house in 1892. The works, started in 1893 by the local buildmasters, Arpád and Géza Jakab, were finished in 1896.

One-storeyed building, enhightened in the central part of the northern main facade, stands on a square plot surrounded by the streets, without clear dividing and presenting the purpose of its functional parts (school-classes and boarding house premises) in the massing. The overall architectural treatment of the facades based on combination of the plain plaster surface with red ceramic plates, covering completely the lower part and forming decorative belts and frames in the upper part, echoes the style of Ödön Lechner, Pártos' partner on that time. In the annual report of the school from 1896/1897 a notice was made on Lechner's possible direct interference with the prepare of the plans.


In the higher maiden schools built around 1900 we can observe some changes determined by the process of continual extension and specification of their educational programme. Despite this, the tendency to the symmetrically arranged disposition still prevailed. As different to the rationality and matter-of-factness of the spatial arrangement, the architectural treatment of the facades used to be closely connected with the existing social context. In this respect, the important role was played by ideological, especially patriotic aspects of the (centrally directed) educational programme that turned the attention to the variants of Ödön Lechner's so-called National (i.e. Magyar) style. Among the higher maiden schools, especially two were echoing Lechner's style, being designed by architects who had been cooperating with and influenced by the "great master" - those were the schools in Košice (Pártos) and Levoča ( Baumgarten). Both of them, however, show the decoratively abundant style in somehow reduced and simplified version, thus possibly reflecting influences of the local milieu.

The above mentioned circumstances also weakened the radiation of the Viennese Wagnerian School of Architecture in Hungary. In the conservative milieu of Upper Hungary, the new Secessionist trends were often combined with surviving Eclectic features, and at the same time, the mixture of decorative elements taken over both from Vienna and Budapest appeared quite frequently - here, the Higher Maiden School in Trenčín (Orth and Somló) could serve as an example. The attempts at reflecting the local building tradition could have also determined the architectural concept of the Higher Maiden School in Bratislava - this brought together Secessionist and Eclectic elements echoing the Baroque-like ornamentation that survived in the local building production.