Quaint Little Paris style house in Ploiesti

Little Paris style house from the La Belle Époque period in Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

This Thursday I undertook a short trip to Ploiesti, the centre of the Romanian oil industry, 60km north of Bucharest, and managed to photograph a sample of its great multitude of architecturally remarkable houses, built in large part by money generated by its oil wealth and also from Ploiesti’s traditional role as major market town in the region. Its urban development and architectural mix resembles at a smaller scale the historical trajectory followed by Bucharest. One of those noteworthy building, which I encountered there, located on the Independentei Street, is presented in this post’s photographs. It is a picturesque Little Paris style (what I call the French c19th historicist architecture provincially interpreted in Romania of the La Belle Époque period) dwelling, dating probably form the second part of the 1890s or the first years of the c20th at the latest, which seems quite well preserved. This type is often encountered within the territory of the Old Romanian Kingdom (pre-WWI Romania, which did not contain Transylvania and other territories gained after the war). Its general outlines remind me of an evocative Bucharest house from an impressionist style painting, about which I wrote a past article, see this link. I like its compact, box-like appearance, with rounded corners, central wrought iron doorway and ample shell-shape awning. The roof boasts two protruding round attic windows, an ornamental crest and spiky details dotting the drain trough at regular intervals. The decorative register for this type of house is generally inspired from the rococo style panoply, often containing interesting Art Nouveau elements for edifices built at the turn between the c19th and c20th. The Art Nouveau style bits in this particular example are seen in the glazed shell-shape doorway awning and parts of the design of its wrought iron gateway and street fence, fragments of which are presented in the photomontage bellow.

Wrought iron doorway with shell-shape glazed awning, Little Paris style house dating from the late 1890s or early 1900s, Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

Details of the Art Nouveau style elements adorning the gateway of a Little Paris style house (1890s - 1900s), Ploiesti (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavour through this series of periodic articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural history and heritage.

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If you plan acquiring or selling a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing and transacting the property, specialist research, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contactpage of this weblog.

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2 comments on “Quaint Little Paris style house in Ploiesti

  1. Many thanks.

    You suggested the small house drew its overall inspiration from rococo taste, presumably having elements of interesting Art Nouveau bits either added on or built from scratch at the turn of the c20th. Were there other such homes in the vicinity? Was it a fairly wealthy area? Did Romania of the La Belle Époque period generally favour that rather elaborate French influence?

    • Hi Helen, the rococo ornaments and motifs of the house are of course a rendering typical of the c19th historicist current in architecture, popular throughout the Europe of that era and its colonial offshoots. In Romania it came as part of the modernisation and Europeanisation process as the country was seeking in the mid c19th its independence from the Ottoman Empire and a clean break with the Islamic and Middle Eastern dominated world of that polity that came to subject what is now Romania for well over five centuries. Also Romania and the Romanians in general were actively seeking close cultural, economic and military links with France during that era of national revival, as France was seen as a beacon of civilization, and most importantly as a sister country, as you probably know that the Romanians are a Latin origin people, speaking a Romance language, the only such ethnic group in Eastern Europe, which is dominated by Slavs and Hungarians, and the French people and their civilization were seen as a close ethnic kin that can relieve them from the dominance of the Slavs and the Ottomans. That is why such architecture was also seen as a marker of that closeness and identification with France and its civilization. The city of Ploiesti took off in its development once the independence of the country was achieved after the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-78 in the Balkans and the exploitation of the area’s huge oil reserves (the oil production from the fields of Ploiesti and Prahova county, was among the largest in the world until the second decade of the c20th and one of the main sources of oil for the German war machine in the WWII, see a description of the terrible bombardments inflicted by one of the largest american air raids of the Second World War: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Tidal_Wave). Therefore the city has been wealthy by any standard and its historic architecture reflects that. The architecture of the house was very fashionable in Romanian of the La Belle Epoque period and there are large numbers of these houses still surviving in various degrees of structural and aesthetic integrity. Most of the houses in that neighbourhood would have been in that style until well in the inter-war period. I hope my answer covers your interesting array of questions. Best regards, Valentin

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