In 1896, the architect Dominik Fey was approached to draw up plans for the Zlín Civic Savings Bank, the first financial institution in the city, whose members included important cultural and business personalities, such as František Bartoš and Tomáš Baťa. In the same year, Fey prepared a design for a new senior school building. For a young architect, these contracts were an opportunity for him to draw attention to himself in the region. Thanks to his successfully completed realisations, his architectural office was established and Fey gradually became one of the most sought-after architects designing public buildings in the sought-after, historic revival style.
Some Zlín buildings can be seen as symbols of the modern development of the city at the turn of the century. After the previous stagnation, at the end of the 19th century, town houses appeared in the small rural town, which in their form and grandeur stood out from the surrounding buildings. The two above-mentioned buildings, standing only a few dozen metres from each other, eventually changed the face of the centre and to this day they are a reminder of the history of Zlín in the period before the construction expansion created by the Baťa company.
The civic savings bank was established in 1869 to support smaller entrepreneurs, peasants and the construction industry, and subsequently also local associations, educational and cultural clubs. Like other credit unions in other cities, the Zlín institution became, in addition to providing financial services, also a driving force for Czech business and emancipation activities, as well as an organiser of social life in the city. The premises of the savings bank were located on historic plots of land connecting náměstí Míru (formerly Masarykovo náměstí) with Dlouhá Street. It consisted of several disparate wings built in two stages.
The older three-storey building was built in 1891-1892 according to the design of the architect Josef Drahoš. In this building there was later a hotel, while in the rooms facing the square there were offices, and a social room with a reading room. The hall was the meeting place with a gallery, where various social events took place. People from local associations met there, cultural and social events took place there, and theatre ensembles from Brno, Prague, or Olomouc performed there.
The second, more representative part of the Civic Savings Bank, designed by Dominik Fey in the second phase in the Neo-Renaissance style, was completed in 1896 on the site of the original inn. In the new building there was a restaurant with a cafe, rooms for rent, and an apartment for the inn owner. The two-storey building bears the characteristic features of the Czech Neo-Renaissance: the windows are lined with decorative pilasters, and the individual floors are separated by cornices filled with smaller pilasters and paintings. The house is completed with an attic with three decorative gables.
The savings bank was remodelled several times over the years. In 1924, for example, a temporary photo studio connected to the existing hall was set up in the courtyard. Two years later, other guest buildings with a total of 16 rooms were built. The gradual expansion of the Savings bank complex led to the creation of a conglomerate, in which a number of businesses operated simultaneously - restaurants, cafés, shops, and a cinema.
After 1948, the association of the Civic Savings Bank lost its function, and its property was nationalised. The administration of the building was taken over by the state enterprise Restaurace a jídelny (Restaurants and Canteens). The restaurant and the Oko Cinema were still there, but the grandeur of the premises was gradually lost. After 1989, the building continued to fall into disrepair, but the restaurant was in operation all throughout the 1990s and has remained in the memories of many locals.
The physical and moral devastation of one of the most representative houses of pre-Baťa Zlín continued. In 2006, however, when there was a discussion of redevelopment in connection with the construction of a new shopping complex in the city centre, there were conflicting opinions. On the one hand, complete demolition was suggested, while on the other, there was a call for the preservation of the buildings and details based on the original plans and photographic documentation. In the end, it was decided to preserve the original facade. The current owners met the conditions set by the city and the historic facade became part of the project of a new shopping centre. The original houses were pulled down. The Zlaté jablko (“Golden Apple”) shopping centre was completed on náměstí Míru in 2009. Its author is architect Svatopluk Sládeček from the NEW WORK studio.