Connecting Perls – Western Balkans, Serbia, North Macedonia

CONNECTING PERLS

The house of Bora Dimitrijević-Piksla, today known as the Town House and located in Leskovac, was built in 1850 and is protected by the state. It represents an immovable cultural asset as a cultural monument.  The house is a distinct example of a Balkan-style house. 

The house was built for the Dimitrijević family, for Atanasije, the president of the Civil Court of First Instance in Leskovac and his wife Dara, a teacher. Their son, Bora Dimitrijević Piksla, was born in 1915 in Leskovac, where he finished elementary school and grammar school, after which he went to study agronomy in Belgrade.

In 1941 he was among the first ones to become a member of Partisans. He was shot by the Gestapo on June 27, 1942, in the fortress of Niš. After the Second World War, the house was bought to be converted into a museum. The National Museum in Leskovac used this building until it moved to a new one in 1974. Until 1978, the house had been empty and left to the ravages of time. That year, an initiative was started by the National Museum for the house to be restored and construction works to be done.

The house represents a typical house of old Leskovac, very few of which are preserved. It was built in a post and pane construction system. It was erected as a one-story building in the Balkan style with a façade, two bay windows facing the street and an enclosed “divanhana” (type of a traditional living room) facing the courtyard below which the entrance is located. In addition to the hall, there are two rooms and a basement on the ground floor of the house.

In one of the rooms, the appearance of a kitchen from the 19th century has been achieved. From this room, you enter a small room, the so-called “Ćiler,” which once served as a storage room. The second room is dedicated to Dr Jacques Confin, a resident of Leskovac of Jewish origin, who for some time lived and worked in Leskovac as a doctor and a writer. 

His table, chair, and typewriter are displayed in this room. There are photos of him and his family on the walls of the room. Other personal belongings of Žak are displayed on pedestals, in glass cases, and on the shelf are his published works. A wooden staircase leads to the hall on the first floor, where the floor and the ceiling were made of oak boards.

The floor has three big rooms and one smaller room, a chandelier room, living room, study and a girl’s room. In the hall, there is a wall display case with women’s city costumes from the XIX and first decades of the XX century 

(“libade” – a traditional short female coat, scarf for “libade”, a skirt and a fez with a headband) and next to it there is a large framed photograph of a woman in Serbian civilian clothing costume. 

The hall is connected to the “divanhana” and the niche next to the “divanhana”. “Divahana” is a few steps higher than the floor corridor, it faces south and overlooks the courtyard. The Guest room or the chandelier room is on the left side, facing the east. 

There is the icon of St. Nicholas on the wall of this room with a candle and all the religious objects which are needed for various celebrations: censer, candlestick and other little things are placed in the niche itself.

In one of the larger rooms, the so-called visiting room, in the space that was used for special occasions, the parlour is displayed. In the part of the room facing the yard, i.e. in the west, there is a carved writing desk, a carved bookcase, a sofa, two armchairs and an upholstered chair, all in neo-baroque style.

The room tucked inside is a girl’s room, where there is one bed with accompanying elements, crocheted bedspread, and a pillow. 

There is also a wardrobe, a mirror, a chest of drawers for laundry, two trunks for storage, a sewing machine etc. The entire girl’s room is white. A total of 27 windows are arranged on the facade panels of the floor.

A four-gable roof with wide eaves is placed over the floor structure, and on the south side, towards the yard, a smaller roof emerges covering the bay window of “divanhana”. A four-gable roof, with a small roof over the “divanhana”, and a wide porch are typical of this type of building. It is covered with tiles, and it used to be shingles with chimneys and a chimney indicating the existence of an open hearth. Those visible elements and details, the facade surfaces, the roof structure, as well as the interior as a whole have been completely reconstructed.

There are no exhibits in the museum collections that belonged to the owners. In its current appearance, the fence is not authentic. Originally, there was a fence made of wooden stalls, but today a high fence was built. There is a water fountain in the yard, and the part in front of it is paved with “kulir” slabs with grass paths between them

By the decision of the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments in 1948, the Town House was placed under state protection.

Today, there is a permanent ethno exhibition of the National Museum of Leskovac in the house and it is open to visitors on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.