Being one of the most beautiful buildings of the city, the villa was initially owned by the old-established Kapantzis family, whose presence in the city can be traced back to the late eighteenth century, when they figured prominently in the guild system. The Villa Kapantzis, as it was named, was particularly lavish and the construction costs exceeded 40,000 gold sovereigns, a mythical amount in those days.
The Villa Kapantzis was built on what used to be a seafront plot of 4,000 sq. m. At the time the west side was visible only from the sea. The mansion essentially comprises two buildings, the main residence and the tower, which are linked to each other. The main building (16.50 m. wide, 19.00 m. long and 18.00 m. high) includes three storeys (a semi-basement, an elevated ground floor and a first floor) and an attic. The tower (4.40 m. wide and 6.60 m long) is four-storeyed and the part above the ground floor is open. The main entrance is on the side facing the historic Vasilissis Olgas Street. The architecture displays overt Central European influences. Essential features include the complex volumes, a multi-level roof with steep slopes and the tall, rectangular tower. The decoration of the building’s interior is rich and varied, thus differentiating each room.
In 1912, following the incorporation of Thessaloniki into the Greek state, the villa served as the residence of Prince Nicholas, the first Military Governor of the city. In 1917, the Villa Kapantzis enjoyed its most glorious days as home of Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos, then head of a Provisional (revolutionary) Government, based in Thessaloniki, during a critical period in the history of Greece. Between 1918 and 1922 the villa was the residence of the Kapantzis and Cohen families. Following the Greek defeat in Asia Minor (1922) and until 1928, refugee families were accommodated in its rooms. In 1928 the building was acquired by the National Bank of Greece, as an exchangeable asset, and was used as the headquarters of the American Foundation Company, which carried out major land reclamation works in Central Macedonia. Between 1938 and 1972, excepting the period of the Second World War, the villa housed the Fifth Boys High School. Thus, thousands of Thessalonikans have lived in the Villa Kapantzis, as pupils of one of the city’s most prestigious secondary schools.
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