Heritage of Timișoara

Fabric 11 3 August 1919 blvd.

The Archduke's House

Alternative names:

Herczl Illis House / Josef Kunz House

Completion date:


  • Architect: Unknown
  • Former Owner: Herczl Illies Archduke Johann Salvator de Austria Entrepreneur Josef Kunz
  • Former Tenant: Lenz Alajos Widow Beatrix Küttel
  • Property type: Private property
  • Protection type: Architectural Ensemble
    Urban ensemble "Fabric" (II)
  • Main arch. style Neoclassical
  • Current condition Poor
  • Planimetry Rectangular
  • No. of levels 3
  • Current functions Multiple property

Built around 1870 by the entrepreneur Josef Kunz, it was the first two storey building in the Fabric neighbourhood. This led to the discontent of other owners, who were afraid that by replicating this initiative, their houses might lose value.

Josef Kunz (1823-1895) studied engineering at the Vienna Polytechnic Institute between 1842-1846 and the Architecture School of Munich between December 1846 - July 1847, however failing to get his academic diploma. Upon his return to Timişoara, he set up the brick factory Josef Kunz & Comp., on 16-18, Buziasului Road, which worked until the 1930s. In 1853, Josef Kunz together with Eduard Hartl, built the two storey building on 3 Eugeniu de Savoya Street, in the Cetate neighbourhood.

In 1868, the building interdiction on the esplanade is reduced to 500 fathoms (949 meters) to 300 fathoms (569 meters), thus clearing, in Fabric, the area between the City Park (today the People’s Park/Queen Mary Park) and Coronini Square (today Romanilor Square). Josef Geml, mayor of Timisoara between 1914-1918, mentions in his monography (Vechea Timişoară/The Old Timișoara) that nearly all the buildings on 3 August 1919 Boulevard, starting from Kunz House/The Archduke’s House up until the “Queen of England” coffeehouse in Romanilor Square (today 29, 3 August 1919 Boulevard) would have been built by Josef Kunz. It is certain that the property across the street (1, Episcop Joseph Lonovici Street), the second two storey building in Fabric, was built by Josef Kunz as well. Because of this, Episcop Joseph Lonovici Street was, for a significant amount of time, ‘The Kunz Row’.

In 1873, the building belonged for a little while to the young archduke Johann Salvator of Habsburg/Toscana, lieutenant colonel of artillery at the Timișoara garrison. In 1874, he publishes in Timisoara an anti-German pamphlet, called “Consideraţii asupra organizării artielieri austriece” (“Considerations Over the Organization of the Austrian Artillery”), which causes a ruckus in the city, leading to the house arrest of the archduke. On February 16th, 1875, by the Emperor’s orders and as punishment, Johann Salvator de Austria is transferred to the Infantry Regiment no. 12 in Krakow. One year later, he takes yet again the command over the Infantry Regiment no. 9.

In 1889, at an exhibit in Paris, Johann Salvator de Austria declares to the press that he intends to renounce all his titles, and take the name of Johann (John) Orth. By the end of the same year, he is excluded from the family tree.

Johann Orth buys a commercial ship and, in 1890, leaves in an expedition to South America, vanishing at sea during a storm. The tragedy echoes in the international press, which gradually reveals that, aboard the same ship, there was Ludmilla (Milly) Steubel, dancer at the Vienna Opera House, Orth’s great love ever since his youth, which he presumably married in secrecy.

A New York Times article in 1899, entitles ‘John Orth in Argentina. The Austrian Archduke Hiding in Obscurity with His Morganatic Wife’ indicates the former archduke as the owner of a farm on the course of the Paraná river in Argentina. The articles ends by mentioning Milly Steubel’s mother, who is presented as convinced that Johann Orth is alive and would one day return among his old friends. Of course, the information on his life in Argentina was just a rumor. Such rumors, along with different individuals claiming to be the archduke, were very common at the time.

In 1911, after an over 20 year absence, Johann Orth was declared dead.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the building belonged to Herczl Illes. The ground level of the building hosted a public bath managed by Lenz Alajos. Beatrix Küttel, the widow of Károly (Karl) Küttel, Mayor of Timişoara between 1859-1861 and 1867-1872, spent the last years of her life in this building.

Vintage photos

Authors of this file:

Research & text: Alexandra Palconi

Field research & mapping: arh. Vlad Pată (coordonator), Liliana Batea (voluntar), Diana Roth (voluntar)

Audited by: Mihai Opriș

Translation into English: Cristina Chira, Alexandra Dragoş

Photographer: Flavius Neamciuc

Last modified: 1 year ago

Published on: 27 October 2017

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