DAILY PICTURE 4-Sep-09: Peasant Model House

Model house: 1906 National Royal Exhibition, Bucharest

Peasant model house: 1906 Royal Jubilee Exhibition, Bucharest (old postcard, Valentin Mandache collection)

The above peasant house was an exhibit, completed with real peasants, at the Royal Jubilee Exhibition in 1906, Bucharest. The event celebrated 40 years of stable and prosperous rule by King Carol I on the Romanian throne and country’s achievements in industry, agriculture and arts. The house is a standardised type synthesised from stylistic ethnographic features and traditional architectural designs of a number of peasant dwellings from different parts of the country. It contained all the necessary for a decent standard of habitation in terms of available space for an average peasant family (about 7-8 individuals), cooking area, adequate washing facilities, latrine, etc. The model house was the expression of attempts in late Victorian Romania for improving the life of the peasants (over 80% of the population in 1906). Many socially minded land owners built model villages for the peasants working on their property (there are now a few villages in Romania named “Modelu”, which trace their origin in those social experiments and also there are still some rare surviving examples of model houses from that period). However, all of those efforts went up in smokes not long after in the great world economic recession of 1907 and the huge peasant revolt that swept the country in the same year, the last medieval jacquerie in Europe, which the government repressed it in a ruthless manner.

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My goal through this daily series of images is to spark the interest of a diverse international audience into the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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If you are interested in acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in locating the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.