In Zilina at the beginning of the 20 th century, the Art Nouveau building projects of engineer Szekely were progressing slowly because of planning changes. At the request of the city, he had to reverse his plans to accommodate a change in street direction. During the years 1919-1921, the Moravian Jan Rufinus Stejskal built a movie theatre, the Grand Bio Universum, where previously two 17 th century houses stood on the site.
The building was constructed by the Ludvik Kanturka company in Zilina, and had a stage in a large hall, with two galleries. The ground level seated 482 spectators, the first 100 and the second 146. After construction, the first feature-film premiere, “Jánošík,” was held on January
3, 1922. The literature lists two premiere dates, as the film opened first in Prague, on November 25, 1921. The film was based on a script by J. Žák-Marušiak, directed by J. Siakeľ, and the title role was played by T. Pištek. The film has been reconstructed in digital form by Ivan Rumanovský.
From 1983 to 1988 the Fatra movie theatre was reconstructed to meet the needs of the State Chamber Orchestra of Zilina (called the Slovak Sinfonietta abroad), which was founded in 1974, based on the old Zilina City Symphony Orchestra (1959-1974). Unfortunately, during reconstruction, the original historical inscription on the upper facade of the Bio Universum building was removed. The creation of the Orchestra was aided by well-known composer Jan Cikker (1911-1989), whose bust is on the ground floor of the hall. The first festive concert was held on January 4, 1989.
The Fatra House of Arts often hosts various social and cultural events. In 1997 the Zilina Citizens’ Association placed two plaques on the front of the building, recalling the first movie premiere (“Jánošík”) and the founding of the State Chamber Orchestra. The Fatra House of Arts is registered as No. 13729/0 in the Central List of the Memorial Fund.