1998 World Monuments Watch
Until about twenty years ago, the historic center of Banská Štiavnica was a thriving mining town with 3,000 residents. Since then, the population has dropped to about 800 and along its lifeless streets are precious Gothic and Renaissance buildings for which there is seemingly little use. One of the most evocative structures in the historic center is Hell House, which served for centuries as an inn, stagecoach stop, and mail center. Unoccupied and not maintained for decades now, Hell House continues to deteriorate: its two main vaulted ceilings have collapsed, structural problems abound, and it is subject frequently to vandalism. Finding a party willing to restore a seriously damaged building having no modern conveniences in a stagnating town is not easy. Although the mayor welcomes proposals for the reuse of Hell House and other empty buildings in town, his goal is for them to be reoccupied by everyday residents – to see town life return. The restoration of Hell House could well be the catalyst for an overall town regeneration.
Since the Watch
In foreclosure at the time of the 1998 Watch, the Hell House has since changed hands several times. Most recently a Slovak hotel developer has proposed to restore the dilapidated structure for use as a hotel, with a modern addition in the rear garden. The project is set to take place in 2011-2013.