Nikola Spasić (Serbian Cyrillic: Никола Спасић; 2 November 1838 in Belgrade – 28 November 1916 in Corfu) was a Serbian businessman, benefactor, humanitarian, and one of the leaders of the Serbian Chetnik Organization in Old Serbia and Macedonia. He was the president of the Board of Directors of the Belgrade Exchange in 1903 and the initiator-founder-builder of the Nikola Spasić Endowment Building in Belgrade. He also initiated and financed the construction of four major edifices in Knez Mihailova Street, the third of which, built immediately proceeding the First Balkan War, was the Grand Passage, designed by Nikola Nestorović
Nikola Spasić was the descendant of a Serbian family, which, "desperately poor", moved to Belgrade from the countryside during the 1804-1813 First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Empire. Spasić trained for 15 years as an artisan and merchant before opening, with his brother, the first leather workshop and store in 1865. The shop manufactured and vended opanci (Opanak), Balkan peasant footwear similar to the moccasin; this light, leather footwear was widely accepted as part of the Serbian national costume and was worn in the 19th century both in the city and the village. By the time of the Kingdom of Serbia acquired full independence in 1878, Nikola Spasić was sufficiently rich to completely withdraw from business. The value of the property that the Endowment of Nikola Spasić had at its disposal following his death was close to that of the Nobel Foundation.
Throughout his career, Spasić maintained a consistent professional attitude: he ran his business in the same way over the years and had an unwavering relation to his clients, which was reflected in his persistent, frugal, diligent self-control and modesty. This, coupled with his humanitarian work, would be how he would be remembered in the city of Belgrade. At the same time, for the architectural design of his buildings, Spasić always selected the best Serbian architects, his buildings featured the latest technical devices, the construction material of the highest quality, with the entire building inventory procured from European centres.
Nikola Spasić's will and last testament, drawn up in 1912, expressly forbade the sale of any of his Belgrade buildings. Rather, it called for their exploitation in order to raise funds and therefore finance all the undertakings of the Endowment of Nikola Spasić. The main goal of the endowment set by Spasić was the economic development of the nation.
For Nikola Spasić, the capable entrepreneur, the promise of architecture was a dream he pursued to the end. Just a few days before his death on the island of Corfu, where he arrived as a war refugee, Spasić revealed in a letter, his hope that he would return one day to liberated Belgrade, accompanied by Viennese architect Konstantin Jovanović, who he planned to engage to design new remarkable edifices.
- "Biografija". Zadužbina Nikole Spasića.
- "Никола Спасић био јачи чак и од Нобела". Novosti.
- "Велики задужбинар Никола Спасић". RTS.
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