Advice for home buyers of the La Belle Époque period

Bucharest enjoyed a remarkable capitalistic property boom during La Belle Époque period (late Victorian, followed by the Edwardian era), which was the first of the four building booms that the city and the country have witnessed to date. The first building boom was in many aspects similar with that of a frontier city from the mid-c19th American west or that of the new towns that sprang up in the same period in Russia’s Black Sea prairie or in Siberia. Romania’s capital was then in the process of a rapid development from a small Ottoman market town to an aspirational European capital city, which today is the sixth largest metropolis of the European Union.

That rapid development had to accommodate a large influx of people who came from its bucolic outskirts, outlying villages or small provincial towns and were used to a rural, medieval-like way of life. There was a real need to initiate and educate the new city dwellers, who were building or buying houses on a massive scale, in the ‘secrets’ of a modern European way of life. That is the era when the picturesque Little Paris architecture, one of the hallmarks of its built heritage, emerged. The brochure presented here is part of that more unusual  educational effort.

The brochure is just three pages in length, published in 1911 by “Societatea L.E.”, probably a local charity, and is brimful with practical advice. Although its recommendations sound trivial for our twenty first century ears, they would have resonated quite powerfully in those of the La Belle Époque people. Among the most amusing instructions are those referring to the use of the toilet, like “climbing with your feet over the toilet seat should be forbidden!” or “do not block the toilet drains with too large pieces of paper or cotton wool”. Another very telling advice is about the painting and decorating of the room walls, lecturing the Bucharest people, notorious for their perennial propensity to paint and decorate their houses in strident, garish colours, to keep the scheme as simple as possible: “you should leave the  walls whitewashed and if colour is desired for decoration, then use just one light lime-wash shade with a simple decorative frieze above”.

[brochure form Mr. Ion Rogojanu's collection]

“Historic Houses of Romania” interview on Radio Romania, tomorrow at 21.06 (GMT+3)

Dear readers,

I would like invite you tomorrow, Saturday 25 September ’10 at 21.06 h (GMT+3, ie London summer hour + 2h), to listen to an interview which I gave at the invitation of Mrs Denise Theodoru, senior editor at Radio Romania Actualitati, the national radio broadcasting station in this country, within the programme entitled “Famous Signatures, which can be listened obline at the link just mentioned or for those of you based in Romania on the radio frequency 105,3 FM. The interview is in the Romanian language and takes about one hour. The recording was conducted walking up and down leafy streets in a corner of Bucharest that still preserves its picturesque inter-war mix of Art Deco and Neo-Romanian architectural styles and urban ambient. I expounded there actual issues facing the historic houses of Bucharest and Romania and made considerations about the local market for period properties of which I am the only specialist consultant in this country. I also spoke about my professional training as a historian at the London School of Economics and activity in the United Kingdom in fields related to the study and market of historic houses.

With best regards,

Valentin Mandache, author of the “Historic Houses of Romania” blog

The webpage from Radio Romania Actualitati announcing the interview

1900s Corner Shop in Provincial Romania

1900s corner shop house, today functioning as a dwelling, Targoviste, southern Romania (©Valentin Mandache)

The above image shows a quaint and relatively well preserved former corner-shop building, which also doubled as a local pub, dating from the turn between the c19th and the c20th, in Targoviste, southern Romania. It is a structure once ubiquitous in provincial towns, villages or the outlying quarters of Bucharest, but a rarity nowadays. The building represents an excellent historic commercial architecture witness for this area of Europe and would constitute a cheap and easy potential restoration – renovation project for anyone willing to undertake such an endeavour. I like in this particular example how the original window shutters are secured with impressive transversal iron bars, exactly as in the old days. I do wonder if the interior of the house still preserves something from the old shop layout or furniture.

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I endeavor through this series of daily 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 a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing 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.

Bucharest Art Nouveau House: Letter from A Reader

Bucharest Art Nouveau house, Dorobanti area (©Valentin Mandache)

Recently I had the pleasant surprise to receive a letter from one of my readers who has seen photographs of his house published and analyzed on my blog in two previous articles (Bucharest Art Nouveau House and Blue frame Art Nouveau Window). The house in question is one of the few methodically restored and renovated historical buildings in Bucharest. That was possible because, as I found out from the message, the proprietor is an experienced architect, who has meticulously restored his own house. The results are indeed remarkable, as I detailed in my articles. The edifice is designed in what I would describe as a predominantly Art Nouveau style, with some motifs and shapes recycled from the c19th historicist and other architectural styles popular at that time in Bucharest. The new and substantial information brought to the fore by my reader about his house are an absolute gem, enlivening this fascinating period property from Romania’s capital with mentions about its architect, previous owners and their often dramatic personal stories, detailing the laborious and difficult restoration works undertaken. The following is the letter received from my reader concerning this beautiful historic edifice:

Dear Sir,

I would like to bring to your attention, in my quality as the proprietor of the house described in your blog articles, the following additional information:

The house has been built in 1915 by a Czech entrepreneur, for his German wife. The architect was a member of the Storck family, the famous Bucharest artists, namely Jean (Johann) Storck. I have affixed a name tablet with his signature on the façade, next to the main entrance. The architectural style is a composite one (the client probably requested that), for example mixing together [nn in an Art Nouveau matrix] Neo-Romanian elements (on the street façade) with elements inspired from the German expressionism seen in such house examples from Berlin or Prague (on the courtyard façade).

Because the wife of that entrepreneur did not like the house, it was sold as soon as it was finished to a Romanian aristocratic family, the judge Constatin R. Sturdza and his wife Maria-Irina (nee Campineanu). The family was part of the high Bucharest society, but decent and quite religious when compared to the conspicuous frivolity and arrogance displayed by many among that class during those times.

Mr. Costantin Sturdza has been a front line officer during the Great War, the president of the Constanta County court of justice, and later a good lawyer. He also administered the land and farms that remained in his wife’s property after the radical state agrarian reform of 1923.

His brother became a Foreign Affairs Minister during the Legionary (nn the local Romanian fascist party) government in the first phase of Antonescu’s regime [nn 1940]. Constantin (aka Costache) Sturdza was vehemently opposed to the deportation by the Romanian fascist government to Trandnestria in the Romanian and German occupied Ukraine of the Roma/ Gypsy minority members who lived on his land properties (the family has a letter from those Roma people attesting that fact).

It is interesting that this house has been visited a few times by the fascist dictator Ion Antonescu, who came there for discussions with Costache Sturdza’s brother (before he took over the power in the country in the autumn of 1940). The meetings took place in the lawyer’s office on the ground floor of the building.

After the 23 August 1944 royal coup (nn when Romania broke the alliance with Nazi Germany, joining the Allied cause) the house became the residency of the General Radu R. Rosetti (an in law relative of the Sturdza family), the famous military historian of Romania. He was subsequently arrested by the new authorities and died in the Vacaresti prison.

Costache Sturdza’s wife has been one of the local Red Cross presidents, and their children were also distinguished persons, such as the navy officer, Dinu Sturdza (married with Ionana Rosetti, the daughter of General Rosetti), Ion Sturdza (an engineer, who has recently died in France), Maria Irina (married Fof) (an agronomist), the wife of professor Mihai Pop (the great Romanian folklorist) or Ileana Sturdza (married Cerchez).

Even the owner, Costache Sturdza, was forced to endure a few spells in political prisons between 1945- 1949.

The house was confiscated by the state in 1950, but continued to be partly occupied by the owners’ family until 1989. Among other communist era tenants of this house was the family of the actor Dan Nutu. They were also harassed by the communist authorities, but professor Mihai Pop has managed through his efforts and connections to protect them and avoid the worst prosecutions to which they were exposed because of their status as descendants of an aristocratic family.

Art Nouveau house, Bucharest, how it looked before and after the restoration works

After the 1989 regime change in Romania, the family has successfully reclaimed the property, which was by then in a very run down state as is shown on the left hand side column of photographs in the above collage [nn the right hand column shows images of the house after subsequent restoration and renovation works]. I bought the property in 2003, and being an architect by profession I restored and renovated it in all details after the long 45 years period during which it was badly maintained by a communist state property management company (ICRAL). Amid those works I discovered the original colourful frieze mentioned in your article, hidden under a layer of plaster put there by the ICRAL people. I had an excellent team of workers that assisted me throughout this laborious project, without any support from the state authorities in charge with the heritage buildings, and tried my best to bring it as close as possible to its original shape and details.

One of the interesting discoveries during the restoration works, was the blue hue paint that originally decorated the window woodwork and doorways, under thick layers of more recent nondescript brown paint. I noticed that you also mention the beauty of this blue paint (surprisingly many other people, uneducated in these matters, consider the colour as too strident), this being the original paint colour.

Art Nouveau house, Bucharest- before and after restoration

In the interior of the building, as can be seen in the above photomontage, I installed a central heating system, air conditioning, overhauled the electricity cables and its water and drainage systems, tanked the cellar and thermally insulated the loft ceiling. I consider this project as a salvage operation meant to recover something from the ART NOUVEAU atmosphere of the old Bucharest. Many other owners of such architectural gems in this city would be able to save them if the state authorities in charge with the heritage buildings would give them just a minimal support, which tragically is missing in this country. Your kind articles about this house made me very happy and gave me new hopes and I would like here to thank you for that! With respect, Architect GRS

I am truly moved by these wishes and the impact made by my articles and would also like to thank my reader for his fascinating pieces of information and nice words! I thus hope that my creative effort expressed through the blog posts and the relevant photographs would contribute somehow to the necessary attitude change among the public and authorities toward the conservation of the local historic architecture. Bellow is a close up of the beautiful 1910s frieze uncovered by the proprietor of this house during the restoration and renovation works.

The frieze of a predominantly Art Nouveau house, Dorobanti area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

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If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing 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.

Little Paris Style House in Targoviste

Little Paris style house in Targoviste, dating from the 1890s, southern Romania. (©Valentin Mandache)

This type of architecture was very popular throughout the late c19th and early c20th Romania, inspired from the French c19th historicist styles. The house in the photograph above, located in the centre of Targoviste, 80 km north-west of Bucharest, is a relatively well preserved example, conveying the idea of how the Romanian towns would have looked like during the Fin de Siècle era. I am enchanted by the provincial picturesque manner in which the different ornaments and structural elements are rendered- for example the pediment above the doorway, which contains the owner’s ornate monogram, is a near rectangle triangle, very remote in proportions from the classical Greek temple model that it tries to emulate. Targoviste has a fair number of such houses, which can be reasonably restored to their former glory for a fair price. Unfortunately there are not enough qualified craftsmen and other specialists capable to undertake such a task in nowadays Romania. However, the biggest problem is represented by the multitude of ignorant owners and property speculators whose usual objective is the demolition of such historic structures in order to free the land for modern, more profitable buildings or in the more fortuitous instances to alter the property in order to ‘improve’ it with modern amenities, as can can be seen in this particular example- the horrible air conditioning units above the doorway awning or the tasteless plastic frame double glazing that replaced the original ornate windows.

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

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If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing 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.

Church Shape Neo-Romanian Style House

A unusual, medieval Wallachian church shape, Neo-Romanian style house dating from the late 1920s. Dorobanti area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

The ornate Neo-Romanian style house from the above photograph is in the final stages of a professional, in my opinion, renovation and restoration process. It is located in an area dotted with many prime Bucharest period property examples, embassies and exquisite government property edifices. What I found unusual about this building is its general shape, resembling closely that of a medieval Wallachian church, especially the types found in the Oltenia region of SW Romania. For example the arched porch next to the house doorway, visible in the second plane of the lower left corner area, is inspired from that of the Tismana monastery. I like how the church altar area is resembled by the apse like ground level veranda that has above it a beautiful alcove, tiered in three sectors that result in a discreet balcony. Also remarkable are the street fence poles, crowned by elegant jardininers decorated with Neo-Romanian style motifs.

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

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If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing 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.

An article in the Romanian press detailing my activity as a historic property consultant

The article in the Romanian national daily "Puterea" about my activity as a historic property consultant.

The Romanian national daily newspaper “Puterea”, which has recently been launched in Bucharest by the former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, has published an article-interview in its 17 May 2010 issue, where I speak about my activity as a historic property consultant specialised on the Romanian market. The journalist has correctly noted that I am the only expert in this market sector active in the country. The translation of the article’s title is “The new land grab – the demolition of Bucharest’s historic houses” (click the link to access the article- written in Romanian language); it is authored by Dana Fodor Mateescu.

I translated bellow a couple of paragraphs for your information:

“Valentin Mandache is an expert in historic houses, the only such specialist in the country offering consultancy services in the field of period property ( historical appraisal, market analysis, property finding, advice regarding the renovation and restoration of a historic property). He confirms the truth felt by many among Bucharest’s citizens: that a majority of this city’s historic properties are in a real danger of obliteration in the foreseeable future. [...] My activity epitomises a less common gathering of qualifications and work experiences for Romania’s professional landscape; it is a combination of skills pertaining to the fields of history of architecture and property market analysis, developed throughout 20 years of activity and specialist training in the United Kingdom, other European countries and the United States.

According to Valentin Mandache, the period property market is a very specialised market segment, mostly ignored or unprofessionally approached by virtually all Romanian property consultants. It requires a lengthy training and experience in the field of history of architecture, marketing and analysis focused on this more unusual market sector. [...] “When I encounter a historic house, I become extremely curious to find out details about its history and of the previous generations that had lived there” confesses Valentin Mandache. I just want to unravel in minute detail the intricacies of its venerable architecture and unearth the old mysteries that might be buried in documents, personal stories or the structure of that house. I believe that I am in a position to save a historic house when a client has a tangible benefit from my consultancy services, advising him or her how to buy that property, efficiently restore or renovate it, how to chose the best architectural details, decorative themes and conservation methods. I can also help that individual or organisation to properly market their property as an asset endowed with a distinct historic and architectural value. This is my contribution to the conservation and rescue of the cultural heritage of this country.”

“Puterea”, 17 May 2010

The Lush Vegetation & Sunburst Motifs of A Vanished Art Deco Panel

The lush vegetation and sunburst motifs Art Deco panel that embellished, until not long ago, a late 1920s apartment block in Bucharest; Opera area. (©Valentin Mandache)

The example above has been, in my opinion, one of the most picturesque and interesting Art Deco era building façade panels of Bucharest. It has vanished last year together with the rest of the quaint Art Deco style decoration of the building that hosted them for so many years after that edifice fell victim to the frenzy of ‘improvement’ works plaguing now Romania’s capital. These works are a city wide programme promoted by the mayoralty and heavily subsidised by the taxpayer aimed at ameliorating the thermal coefficient/ insulation of the local buildings. Although that seems a ‘green’ policy when taken at face value, it is in fact a major conduit through which many of Bucharest’s historic buildings are defaced or irremediably damaged with the concourse of the local authorities through programmes financed by taxpayer money. The scheme is enthusiastically embraced by the great multitude of ignorant property owners and tenants that populate this city. It is just one of the innumerable examples of badly thought policies affecting the architectural heritage of Bucharest. I wrote an article about this building and its plight last year (click for access here), a few weeks before all its Art Deco embellishings were rudely razed and thrown to the rubbish bin. In the autumn of 2009 I took another photograph of the newly ‘improved’ building, which I collated in the image bellow with a photograph of the old dwelling before the works took place. The proprietors are now probably very proud of the ‘modern’ look of their asset and convinced that the property value is much higher than when the strange  and useless, in their view, Art Deco panels were present there.

The Art Deco style apartment block before (upper half of the photograph) and after the 'improvement' works carried out by taxpayer subsidised contractors. The façade location of the decorative panel is indicated by the the 'x' mark within the blue circles. Photographs taken in 2009 (spring and early autumn). Opera area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

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I endeavor through this daily series of images and small 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 a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing 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.

Small Art Deco Block of Flats in Bucharest

Small block of flats in the Art Deco style, dating from mid-1930s, Iancului area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

I like the compact design of this Art Deco apartment block, a bit like a toy house, which manages to occupy a relatively small plot of land in the perennially crowded Bucharest. The architect had to play with volumes and decorative lines in such a way as to give the impression of an airy building throughout, a task excellently achieved as one can see from the design structure of the doorway and entrance hall (at the bottom of this photomontage). The spatiality effect for the doorway is obtained through a gradual increase in the length of the pediment ledges and the receding location of the door relative to the front walls. For the entrance that impression is accomplished through the hollow stepped pyramid shape of the ceiling and the play between the perpendicular lines of the floor’s decorative strips and stair’s steps. These are wonderful visual solutions found by the 1930s architects in the context of a city endowed with a limited and expensive space available for building, a problem which is again very acute in today Bucharest. In my opinion the contemporary planners and architects of this city would have a great deal to learn from the study of their predecessors in order to find solutions for actual travails, but sadly such an undertaking is not and has never been on the radar of  a majority among the professionals that populate these activities in nowadays Romania.

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I endeavor through this daily series of images and small 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 a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing 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.

Getting Rid of One’s Own Heritage in Bucharest

Derelict, heritage listed, mid 1910s Neo-Romanian style house, fire gutted by squatters with the tacit approval of absentee proprietors- a common method in Bucharest for obtaining a demolition permit for historic houses, in order to develop the plot with a more profitable modern office building. Iancului area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The architecture of this mid 1910s house is extremely interesting, being a transition style between early Neo-Romanian, as was conceived by the architect Ion Mincu, its initiator in the 1880s, and the citadel like structure popular in the inter-war period. One can see here some of Mincu’s hallmarks in the pointed arch windows and airy veranda, together with the bastion tower structure borrowed from the fortified yeoman dwelling of Oltenia region, the “cula” (a word derived from Turkish meaning citadel) type house. Unfortunately the building has suffered during the wild Romanian property bubble of the last few years, eyed by greedy developers and irresponsible proprietors for the development of a more profitable modern building on the valuable plot of land occupied by this quite centrally located historic house. The building in this instance has probably changed hands in speculative transactions a number of times in the space of just a few years and was left to deteriorate, open to the elements and squatters, in order to secure the much coveted demolition permit. In the end the house was gutted by fire and although the authorities brick boarded its entrances, it looks that the fate of this magnificent house is sealed. That fact most probably makes its proprietors extremely hopeful of pocketing large profits from the development of the land (I very much doubt that as the Romanian property market is now the most inflated and least profitable in the entire European Union).

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I endeavor through this daily series of images and small 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 a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing 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.

“Old and New in Bucharest Architecture. How to Preserve our Identity?”- Radio Programme

This was a radio broadcast programme by Radio Romania International on 16 March ’10, 20.00h-21.00h, on the subject of Bucharest’s old buildings and their plight in the last two decades of Romania’s painful transition from communism to democracy and market economy. The debate, entitled “Old and new in Bucharest architecture. How to preserve our identity?”, took place among blog authors specialised on the architectural heritage. The participants were the following: the author of this blog- Valentin Madache (Historic Houses of Romania), Cezar Buimaci (Orasul lui Bucur) and Dan Rosca (Bucurestii Vechi), moderator- Mara Popa. The language used is Romanian; apologises for the non-speakers of this language.

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If you plan 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.

Daily Picture 18-Mar-10: Art Nouveau and Property Bubble Hangover

A Bucharest variety of 1900s Art Nouveau style house that also displays rococo and early Neo-Romanian elements, in a very bad state of repair, next to a flashy stretch limo that gathers dust, among empty plastic bottles scattered on on a dirty unmaintained pavement. Maria Rosetti area. (©Valentin Mandache)

The photograph, which I took in late autumn last year, of a luxury limousine next to a deteriorated period house, inhabited by poor state tenants, is a telling metaphor of the hangover feeling that engulfed Bucharest after the bursting in 2009 of the Romanian property and financial bubble, which saw New York type prices for property and credit fuelled ‘new Russian’ style consumption excesses. The sky-high property prices are still lingering aroung, making the purchase of a period property in Bucharest one of the most expensive, riskiest and unprofitable investments anywhere in the European Union. My estimate is that although the prices are about 20% less than the exuberant levels of late 2008, they are still having a very long way to go (another 60% down from today prices) and reach a level that would reflect the undeveloped infrastructure and economic reality of Romania.

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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If you plan 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.

Daily Picture 21-Feb-10: Art Nouveau Style Property Defaced by Ignorant Owner

One of the countless examples of defacement and destruction of historic houses in Bucharest by ignorant nouveau riche owners. (©Valentin Mandache)

I made the montage above from photographs taken at a distance of one year from each other (autumn 2008 – ’09) of the doorway of a superb 1907 Art Nouveau style house in Cismigiu-north area of Bucharest. The owner has replaced the original and valuable Art Nouveau glass and wood door with an unsightly mass produced, modern metallic one, which does not have anything to do with the style of the house. The owner is from among the class of nouveaux riches that emerged in post-communist Romania and have started to acquire historic property in central areas of Bucharest. The lot, as a rule, is very arrogant and ignorant in cultural and historic matters, with devastating consequences for the properties which fall into their hands. In a majority of cases they abusively demolish the historic buildings in order to have them replaced with modern characterless houses or in ‘best instances’ deface the period property replacing the original artefacts with modern mass production equivalents, perceived as more prestigious and valuable. In the instance pictured above, the owner is most probably convinced that the market value and aesthetics the house were greatly enhanced by replacing the despised old ‘strange looking’ door. The phenomenon has reached dangerous proportions in Romania, threatening the integrity of the built heritage and identity of the local communities.

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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If you plan 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.

Daily Picture 8-Feb-10: Art Deco Furniture Find

Walnut veneer Art Deco style furniture made in mid-1930s, preserved in a very good state, placed in the best room of a peasant house located in Dolj county, south-west Romania. (©Valentin Mandache)

I found the fine Art Deco style bedroom furniture in the image above during my fieldwork as a buying agent for a client interested in purchasing a peasant house in the villages that dot the wine producing areas of Oltenia province in SW Romania. In the inter-war period, the peasants from the wine producing regions of Romania got relatively prosperous and started to acquire modern furniture and durable household items. These were destined, as was the Art Deco style bedroom furniture set shown here, for the best room of the house, well looked after and preserved as family heirlooms. The furniture in this case could be sold with the house or separately, making it an interesting and affordable acquisition for anyone interested in Art Deco antique artefacts.

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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If you plan 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.

From Country Mansion to Village Hall and Back Again

An old country mansion dating from early c20th, built by the local aristocrat/ landlord, in what was perhaps initially a neo-classical style, for use as his residence and farm administrative headquarters. Olt county. (©Valentin Mandache)

The mansion in the image above was confiscated by the communist regime in late 1940s as part of the communist takeover of the private property in Romania, subsequently used as a village hall until early 1990s, then given back to the descendants of the pre-communist owners and now as the result of a lingering property bubble that affects the country, is on the market for huge price tag, much higher than better quality period property from Southern France or Tuscany, left to deteriorate and out of reach of anyone willing to properly restore or renovate it. This is the usual sad trajectory followed by many of the historic houses that dot Romania.

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I endeavor through this daily image series to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural heritage.

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If you plan 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.