top of page

When a mine elevator was installed in the house of the Eagles

The story of the building at Irányi 17 is our story: it was built as the headquarters of an opposition table society, the Eagles, between the two wars it was transferred to the Budapest Architects' Board of Trade, then it functioned as a shelter during the siege of Budapest and was hit by a mine attack. Then came socialism, and with it the slow decline, when for decades, apart from a random facade renovation, it ran only to have a very inappropriate elevator rape the building, which continued to function for ten years after the regime change, but has been empty since the turn of the millennium. Chronicle of a rebirth, part 1: the story of the House of Eagles.

The house at 17 Irányi utca was built on an irregular, elongated rectangular plot of land - which, apart from minor regulatory amendments, was already formed during the subdivision after liberation from the Turks. The rectangle is perpendicular to the street front, i.e. one of its short sides runs out onto Irányi Street: this is the main facade of the former Sasok House. In 1895, Sas és Körház Reszvénytársaság bought the plot from a family of spice merchants for HUF 42,458.

The main facade of the building before the current renovation

The beginnings

Saskör was founded three years earlier, and the society met regularly in today's Arany Sas inn on Semmelweis Street. In the beginning, it was a kind of secret opposition society, which was organized from the surviving March youth, but after the unification of Budapest, the focus shifted from the anti-Habsburg program to urban politics.

They worked with all their might on the prosperity of Budapest, being convinced that a huge Hungarian capital could be the greatest resource for the development of the whole country and the Hungarian statehood in it - writes Magyar Elek in the 1920 edition < em>In Pest histories.

Sasok has become one of the most influential table companies in Pest, and their story is certainly the most exciting episode in the history of their headquarters. "They worked on the image of the town, named streets, created a fund from which they spent on the city and the buildings," says Tamás Tótszabó, the Pyxis Nautica architect who is currently renovating the building. The most spectacular of the motifs referring to the company's name was clearly the cast-iron eagle statue straddling the attic, but the reference echoes in the ballroom as well, in the form of plaster stucco. It was discussed that a contemporary sculpture by Miklós Gábor Szőke would sit in the place of the former eagle predecessor, but the plan stalled after the conceptualization.

The odd side of Irányi utca around 1900 (BTM Kiscelli Museum)

The design of the building was entrusted to one of the successful design couples of the time, the architects Antal Steinhardt and Adolf Láng from Prague. We can thank the Design Couple for contemporary buildings such as the Kassai Theater, the National Theater in Pécs, the former Hungarian Theater or the Anna Spa in Szeged and the Old Art Gallery in Pest.

The November 1895 plan by Antal Steinhardt and Adolf Láng was accepted a year later after some modifications, and in March 1897 the building received the occupancy permit. The three-story building was built for mixed functions: the Eagles used the ground floor, as well as the mezzanine and most of the first floor, while the second floor was used by the Eagles. and III. rental apartments could be created on the upper floors. In addition, the street tract of the ground floor and part of the cellar were used by a restaurant.

Guest room of the Queen Lúdláb restaurant, 1937 (Theatrical Life 1937/52.)

The library of the table society was given a place here, and although no original plans of the upper floors have survived, an office was certainly reserved for the managers. The great hall is considered special, in which social events, concerts, carnival balls, New Year's Eve parties, performances and political meetings were held.


An internal side staircase was designed by Antal Stienhardt just a few months after the handover, and the rooms on the first floor were renovated in 1908. Presumably, there was no question of wall demolition or elevation, only of interior design remodeling.

Representative spaces in the 1927 publication of the Ipartestület

The Saskör gradually lost its importance after the First World War, and was eventually unable to finance its operation. Thus, in the mid-1920s, the headquarters came to the Industrial Board of Budapest Master Architects, which - in accordance with the profession it represents - began the first major transformation of the building's history. The entrance to the restaurant was significantly widened, its interior architecture was transformed, and the restaurant itself was divided into two smaller spaces (it is true that in 1934, in order to increase the guest space, the two spaces were partly opened together again). Vaulted ceilings of Prussian glass were laid over the high-ceilinged guest rooms of the restaurant, and the resulting rooms became the chief clerk's office, the archives, and a porter's apartment. The II. The rear, courtyard apartment on the 1st floor was liquidated, replaced by an office of the board of industry, and the attic with three servants' rooms was added.

And that's when a four-person elevator, suitable for access to all floors, was installed, following the plans of the Antal Haverland elevator factory.

Plans for the 1927 alterations

Mechanical engineering was modernized: a low-pressure hot water heating system was created for the community room. The system ensured a temperature of 15-15 degrees in the circulation areas and 20-20 degrees in the main hall and offices. The renovations were completed in 1927.

War, socialism

Smaller apartment modernizations were carried out at the end of the 1930s, then in 1941 a large shelter capable of accommodating 52 people was created in the basement under the side wing of the courtyard, and emergency exits were opened in the direction of the two neighboring houses.

During the siege of Budapest, the courtyard facade of the street wing was hit by a mine, that part, and II. and III. floor slabs had to be rebuilt. Immediately after the war, the renovations continued: in 1947, additional offices were set up for the Budapesti Építőmesterek Egyesülete, which was also based in the building, but two years later the state socialist government terminated both associations. However, the function of the building remained similar, i.e. it became the office building of the State Construction Company.

The elevator installed in socialism is now a thing of the past

The pace slowed down a bit, serious renovations only took place in the 1980s: the facade was renovated in 1987, but a few years earlier the old four-passenger lift was demolished and replaced by a double, six-person, free-standing tower an elevator house was built in the inner courtyard, by breaking through the slabs of the covered courtyard - as Tamás put it, "it entered the courtyard like a mine elevator". Over time, more and more companies rented offices here, and then the building fell into disuse in the late 1990s and early 2000s.


Tamás Tótszabó drew attention to some unusual functions from the building's adventurous history: such is the cellar and the connection of several other rooms to the restaurant on the ground floor, as well as "the representative ballroom of more than one hundred square meters, which is unusual in downtown buildings, and where evenings and concerts were held, but there was also a bell-ringing cinema.

The meeting room is around 2000

By now, following the plans of Pyxis, the inappropriate parts have already been demolished, including the aforementioned mine elevator, as well as the not-so-representative engine house on top. "Then we felt that the yard was breathing a little.

This brings us to the current, large-scale transformation of the building, however, the renovation concept, as well as the design and implementation challenges, will be described separately in the "Irányi series" as part of. So stay tuned, the sequel is coming!

2 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page