LUMEN GROCERY

Klauzál Square 14.
BUILT IN: 1875


STORY

In 1872, the building on the corner of Dob Street and Csányi Street was purchased by nobleman Sándor Halasy of Dévaványa (who was related to the Dessewffy family by marriage) and wholesaler József Rottberger. Over the course of the next three years, the two ambitious investors had a three-story, Historicist-style tenement building constructed on the basis of designs by architect Donát Voita. The building acquired the simple, sterile appearance it has today in the 1960s, when the municipal government decided to remove the many adornments instead of preserving the facades.

Between November 29, 1944 and January 17, 1945, at the time of the large ghetto in Budapest, seven units of the ghetto police operated out of the enclosed area. The headquarters of one of these police units was located in the building. The task of the ghetto police, which consisted of 900 unarmed men, was to maintain order among the some seventy thousand people who had been crowded together into the ghetto. The police were also responsible, in principle, for ensuring protection against fascist Arrow Cross men who might make their way into the ghetto.

Over the course of the century and a half of its existence, the building has been home to numerous restaurants, taverns and similar establishments on its ground floor. Naturally, these businesses included bars with drinks on tap and smaller stores. The Sark Coffee Shop operated out of the building for a time. The two people who dreamed up WIW, a Hungarian website meaning “Who is Who,” were regulars at the coffee shop. The website had more traffic than any other Hungarian website between 2005 and 2010. It was founded two years before Facebook.

In 1956, Zoltán Gottfried and his wife Magda opened a vegetable store in a shop on the side of the building that looks onto Csányi Street. In 2012, after more than half a century, they sold the store to another “vegetable-store dynasty,” the Uliczki family. Judit and Juli, the Gottfried couple’s grandchildren, did a great deal of the background work for the sale. The Gottfried sisters and the new owner, Zsuzsa Uliczki and her two sons, Dénes and Soma, created the Lumen Vegetable and Community Provider, which functions as a vegetable store and a gastro-cultural platform(it is one of the branches of the Lumen Photography Foundation). Originally, Lumen was founded in 2002 by artists at the beginning of their careers in order to create a shared platform for visual artists and better acquaint the public in Hungary with their work. Distinctive furniture was used in the vegetable store that can be arranged in an array of ways to serve an array of functions. Thus, any artist whose works are put on exhibit can create a space that ideally suits his or her vision. The store continues to sell fruits and vegetables, and the text that was once used to draw in customers remains, now on the shop window instead of the wall: “Fresh fruit and vegetables available every day.”

See the artist: Mátyás Csiszár 

By Viktor Cseh