The first house on the left side of the old Dunavska street, since the early 1850’s used to be known as the “Dicgen Ironmongers”. It was demolished in the early 1950’s, to widen the Gimnazijska street, leaving the neighbouring house, at the street corner.
After the demolition, the blind wall of the second house was exposed, and in the 1969/70 reconstruction, openings were added on this wall, giving the present corner house, the City library, the look we know today.
The now-demolished first house of Danube street, “Dicgen Ironmongers”, was built in 1853, for the owner Gabriel Dicgen, in Neoclassical style. The building spread over cadastral lots number 1871 and 1872, which implies that before the 1849 bombardment there might have been two older houses in its place. This street corner didn’t exist in the 1745 map of Novi Sad, while the 1845 map shows that Gimnazijska Street had been made in the meantime.
The picture below is the oldest photo of this house, that was taken at the time of the great flood of 1876. Above the corner entrance, we can clearly read “Dietzgen”, the name of the hardware store established in 1859, that worked for almost a century before the house was demolished in 1950’s.
The original blueprints from 1853 are capt in the Historical Archives of the City of Novi Sad, with the reference number: f. 1, 53/1853; 92/30.4.1909.
The balcony was probably added at a later date since the original design does not show it.
The next photo was taken about ten years later, in the early 1880s.
It shows that the building had been extensively reconstructed, including a decorated dome on the roof corner, which emphasises the chaflan.
It can be noticed that the signboard had been changed from “Dicigen” to “Dicigen Sons”.
This hand-coloured photo of the recently finished Bishop’s Palace from 1901 or 1902 also shows the nearby Dicigen Ironmongers with the façade as it was in the 1880s.
We can see that it was yellow, with green blinds on the first floor and wooden shutters on the ground floor.
A structure for holding power relays is visible on the roof, which points to the fact that this building had electricity for lighting before 1901, which came from the power generator installed in 1892 in the backyard of today’s Vojvodina Hotel. It is possible that this building, as well as most of Dunavska and Zmaj Jovina Streets, had electrical power for lighting as early as prior to 1895 (see more). The entire city was electrified in 1910 when the first electrical power plant started operating in Novi Sad.
The next reconstruction of Dicigen Ironmongers came around 1906 when the wooden shop windows, modern at that time, were made. Having been taken immediately after the reconstruction, this is probably the oldest photo that shows this change.
It also shows a trilingual inscription above the shop reading “Emerlih Dicgen Sons”.
Since Gabriel Dicigen was the original owner who had the house built, Emerlih was probably his son, who carried on the family business.
On this hand-coloured photo taken before 1910 (when the lamppost was placed on the corner, “At the White Lion’s”) it can be seen that the colour of the façade was changed to light grey during the reconstruction when the wooden shop window portals had been put.
The photo of the book shop of A. Pajević, in the house that stands on the corner of Dunavska and Gimnazijaksa Streets today, which was taken between 1906 and 1909, captures a corner of the Dicigen Ironmongers’ portal with a visible year of its establishment – 1859. This means that Dicigen Ironmongers operated continually for about 70 years. It was only immediately before WW II that the Ironmongers became the property of a commercial firm ‟Kontinentalno d. d.”. Interestingly enough, the citizens of Novi Sad were so accustomed to having an ironmongers on this location that after the building was demolished, an ironmongers Vulkan was opened in the next building, today’s house of the City Library, and it remained here until reconstruction in 1969-70, as can be seen in the following photo.
The first house in Dunavska Street nowadays, standing on the corner with Gimnazijska Street, used to be the second until the 1950s. It was built at the turn of the 19th century, even though the 1745 and 1845 city plans show there had been a building on this location. The first preserved document about this house is the reconstruction plan dating from 1851, which is kept in the Historical Archives of the City of Novi Sad, after the house had sustained extensive damage in the Uprising bombing, sharing the destiny of most buildings in the city centre.
This two-storey house, built in 1851, in the style of late-classicism originally had an L-shaped base, with its right yard wing leaning on the neighbouring Dicigen Ironmongers with a gable wall, while the other side was against the house number 3.
The rooms on the ground floor were vaulted, while those on the first floor were under flat ceilings. There was a communication balcony on the yard wing, with decorative stone consoles and a wrought-iron railing. The street wing of the house had a double-slope roof, while the yard wing had a single-slope roof. It was covered with crown tiles.
The photo of the bookshop of A. Pajević, the house of today’s City Library, which was taken between 1906 and 1909, shows that instead traditional shops there were wooden portals with large shop windows modern at that time, and an arched gateway for vehicles. The first floor sustained no changes until this moment, which is evidenced on the 1951 plan and photographs from the great flood of 1876:
In 1909, commissioned by the current owner of the Serbian Orthodox Grammar School, the house was renovated by mason Manojlo Petljanski, according to his own design. The street façade was redesigned in the style of Art Nouveau, where the wooden portals were not changed. The appearance of this Art Nouveau facade can be seen in the photo (1960s):
During the 1969-70 reconstruction, it was decided to return the pre-1909 classical elements to the building, and remove the Art Nouveau adornments.
During the reconstruction, the ground and first floor openings were made on the gable wall looking onto Bishop’s Palace, where Dicgen ironmongers once stood. The roof construction was also changed, turning the building into a corner house with two fronts.
It was in this house that Dr Jovan Subotić founded a printing house and published the journal ‟People” before 1870. Shortly after that, in the 1870s, the house was bought by Arsa Pajević, a bookmaker and publisher from Novi Sad. He bequeathed it to the Orthodox Church Community and from 1885 it housed the Serbian Reading Library. In 1958, the Reading Library with its book fund was taken over by the City Library, which has remained in this house since then.
The face wall onto Gimnazijska Street is reminiscent of Dicigen Ironmongers, with the same number of openings – eleven.
In the period 2005-06, the interior was adapted and the attic space is now used by the Library.
The realisation of this site was supported by the Administration for Culture of the City of Novi Sad
Sources and materials of the Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments of the City of Novi Sad were used for this site
THE NOVI SAD OLD TOWN was declared a cultural property by the decision for determining spatial cultural-historical unit – 05 No 633-151/2008 of 17th January 2008, “Official Gazette of Republic of Serbia” No 07/2008.