Grassy settled, in 1953, in an emblematic building in number 1 on the Gran Via in Madrid. Gran Via. The building, marking the beginning of the street, was designed in 1916 by the architect Eladio Laredo Carranza, following the typical eclectic style of that time, which included many decorative elements with architectural highlights such as feminine figures over the doorways as well as ceramic panels some of which were designed by the artist Daniel Zuloaga. The owner of the lot, financier and friend Luis Ocharán Mazas, commissioned him to design a luxury residential building. Because of the pronounced triangular shape of the plot, the architect conceived a V shaped building consisting of two independant wings joined by an entranceway which acts as a passage connecting Gran Via and Caballero de Gracia streets, leaving a central patio. The vertex of the V corresponds to the street corner and the architect creates the illusion of a ship’s bow, ending in a rotunda and a circular pavilion above. For decades the ground and first floors were occupied by the famous Café Sicilia Molinero and its tea room.
Café Molinero, circa 1940, Gran Vía 1, Madrid. Future premises for Grassy jewellry shop.
It was on these premises, renovating the interior but maintaining the original structure, where Alexander Grassy decided to establish his new jewelry store. Until then it reflected a neoclassic French style with abundant mouldings and decorative garlands. Manuel Ambrós Escanellas was the architect commissioned and he eschewed the baroque style and variegation to focus on quality materials, good proportions and understated use of colour. All the materials used were of national production from marbles to terrazzo flooring, Italian style stucco, metal elements (bronze and brass covered iron) paint and lighting. This includes the eight metre shop window overlooking the Gran Via, the largest made in Spain until that time. As part of the brass elements used in the interior adding some brightness to the premises is the remarcable access and stair railing with a curved and winding design contrasting with other decorative features. The premises also boasted the first automatic doors in Spain a boast of technical perfection. The large canopy was installed adding character to the facade, with decorative mouldings and star points which contain neon tubes for lighting. This lighting enhances the dark green granite and light green porphyry facings and jambs on the facade. The building has a basement floor which houses the Antique Clock Museum. The rotunda’s plaster coated cupola ceiling is decorated with gilded mouldings. Because of its relationship to the twelve hours of the clock, the zodiac is present as a decorative element both inside and outside the rotunda on the floor and the ceiling.
Detail of the original ceiling in the rotunda.