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The Brummel House of Pilsen Comes to Brussels

Updated: Apr 9, 2023

By Steve Brummel --- I recently gave a speech at the Czech Centre Brussels on my efforts decades ago to save an architectural landmark in Pilsen, a 1928 house designed and built by the famous modern architect Adolf Loos, from demolition. The house is the Brummel House of Pilsen. The time was 1977, the middle of the Cold War.

I was a 24 year old American who had just finished law school. I had to find a way to convince the Communist State that the house was worthy of a historic landmark designation and I had to act very fast before the bulldozers came to knock it down to make way for a bus station. By May 1978 I had succeeded. The Communist authorities declared the house a historic landmark. Readers of the IJC Newsletter may remember my January 2021 article telling the story of this rescue. (Lost & Found – The Brummel House)

Now in Brussels – and by chance - I was asked to tell the story at an exhibition staged by the Czech Centre Brussels on Adolf Loos and his architectural landmarks in Pilsen. Most of those houses were built in the 1920s or early 1930. Loos’ architectural concepts were radical for the time and controversial. Those who hired Loss were mostly Jewish families, including the Brummel family.

This was the first time I have spoken in public about saving the Brummel House. I explained

that I had not gone to what was then Czechoslovakia to save the house. I had gone to find out if any Brummel relatives had survived the Holocaust and in the process, I stumbled across the Brummel House. I was ignorant of its architectural merits and of Adolf Loos. What galvanized me was the desperation of my surviving cousin Jana, 77 years old and an Auschwitz survivor, at the prospect of losing the home she cherished (even if under the Communist regime the house was no longer hers). I needed to prove the house’s architectural merits if I were to have any chance of convincing the Communist Czech authorities to save it.

It was a very great honor to be able to give this speech in this setting. I was very happy to see many IJC faces in the audience. And the story has a good ending. Once the Communist dictatorship fell, the house was restituted in 1993 to the Czech branch of the Brummel family. My surviving Czech cousins, now living in Prague, spent 25 years restoring the house. It opened to the public in 2015 when Pilsen was a European City of Culture. And it can be visited today (by appointment). The house’s website is:

Steve on the left, co-speaker Irena Zantovska Murray, an art and architecture historian now living in Prague, centre moderator Kristyna Halounova , Director of the Czech centre, Brussels on the right.



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