At the White Lion: A Story About the Oldest Building in Novi Sad

‘At the White Lion’ house is considered to be the oldest preserved house in Novi Sad. This two-storey house is located on the corner of Dunavska and Zmaj Jovina streets (number 28), opposite the Bishop’s Palace and the City Library. Ranked immediately behind it, on the second place on the list of the oldest ‘living’ houses in Novi Sad, is the so-called Raletić’s House, which is located on the corner of Nikole Pašića and Zmaj Jovina streets, which was confirmed to have been built in 1751.

‘At the White Lion’ house was first mentioned in 1720 as ‘the house of the soap maker Stojan Maslak’. It is assumed that the house is even older, i.e., that it was built at the beginning of the 18th century. Its designer is unknown. The owners of the house have changed. In the second half of the 18th century, it belonged to Emanuel Janković (1758-1792), who opened the first Novi Sad printing house here in 1970. At the beginning of the 19th century, it was bought by Stefan Stratimirović, the Metropolitan of Karlovci, and at the end of the century, the house was owned by Lazar Dunđerski, the landowner.. The house has undergone major changes over the centuries. The construction style is baroque, which can be seen in the simplicity of the street façade and the massiveness of the walls. The irregular base of the house is shaped as Cyrillic letter P, with the courtyard wings being of unequal length. Dark spaces of shops under deep vaulted structures were on the ground floor of the house, the driveway, which was also under arches, was wider, and the living rooms were on the first floor. There were more prestigious rooms from the street (guest room, bedroom and reception room-salon), and towards the yard, there were utility rooms and those used by the service. The old type of windows also testifes to the time when the house was built, with wings on which the characteristic ‘luft Fenster’ were made. It is one of the small window panes that could be opened independently. On the left wall of the driveway, there is a winch well. This is a construction rarity because no similar one has been registered in this territory.
‘At the White Lion’ house was partially damaged during the Uprising in 1849, but it was not completely demolished. In the years of renovation, a lower roof was raised on the house instead of the former high one, and the renovated building acquired the characteristics of classicism. This house owes its poetic name to the former Novi Sad custom of giving more important houses in the city special names, but why it got this specific name is not exactly known. However, considering that it is one of the few buildings in Novi Sad that survived the bombing of the city, and that it still stands in the same place as a monument of some other times, it can be said that the name suits it well. Autor: msr Ljiljana Dragosavljević Savin, istoričar Foto: Uroš Dožić

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