The studio from an UNESCO monument house
Prejmer - restoring a heritage house
(After an article by Cristina Turlea June
23, 2010 Ziarul de Duminica)
Prejmer 1777. On the Pompierilor Street, nearby
the fortified church, house number 13 was being built. It was
a small house towards the street side, consisting of a semi-basement,
ground floor and an attic. The house was no different from
other of its kind, with the typical vernacular architecture
of the Saxon villages. It was a traditional Franco household
type, specific for its residents primarily preoccupation: agriculture
and animal husbandry.
On one of its beams the year 1777, the year
of construction, was written. This happening made this building
to be enlisted on “The list of historical monuments from
Nowadays the house can be found on the list
of historical monuments published by the Romanian Ministry
of Culture and Heritage, along with the Fortified Citadel (under
UNESCO protection), Evangelical Religious School and another
four houses from Prejmer village.
Constructed of durable materials, placed in
successive layers of stone with brick and covered with a wooden
roof structure with roof tiles, the building was inhabited
almost continuously by its rightful owners.
In the more than 200 years of existence, the
house “grew” as a living organism, responding to
the needs of the owners. More buildings were added to the main
house three along the courtyard and one isolated from the street,
all having the role of household annexes. The ones along the
courtyard, built in the early twentieth century, were the stables
and the barns; the annex from the street, originally intended
only for the bread oven has become by extension a summer kitchen.
These buildings were made of durable materials, brick walls
and wood framing, covered with tile. The three ones attached
to the main house had basement, ground floor level with two
rooms and an attic. In 1990 some repairs, changes and fixes
were made to the main building by the former residents.
The house has been transmitted from generation
to generation until 1991, when the owner at that time left
the country and leaves it in a local administration. In 1995,
their owners requested to the administrator to fully restore
its interior. Unfortunately the decay has continued in an increased
pace, due to errors regarding the technical solutions adopted
in stages of repair, renovation, and the geo-climatic conditions.
The history of this house could have ended
here. It is no exaggeration, as the house was not inhabited
and was becoming more and more a ruin. The administrator wanted
to buy the land cheap so he did not only left the house to
be destroyed by weather and wind but also he bit by bit damaged
The house destiny changed when Mrs. Stela
and Mr. Gheorghe Onut from Brasov noticed it. Mrs. Stela who
is an artist and Mr. Gheorghe, who is a professor in sociology
and author of several books, saw beyond the shrinking walls
and the state of decay and ruin. They didn’t think about
obstacles and they really believed in a restoration project
for the house.
In spite the obstacles like financial problems,
getting permits and licenses for rebuilding, and going through
a lawsuit to get rid of the old administrator of the house,
Stela’s persistence prevailed in the end. Through Prince
Charles Foundation she raised the funds for the restoration
of the façade; she also came in contact with specialized
craftsmen in the art of restoration.
Stela would not have succeeded without the
help of a team of specialists, such as: architect specializing
in restoration - Ileana Fantana (who studied at the School
of Restoration from Cluj), Anca Binder engineer, construction
consultant engineer Horatiu Pop and specialized firm and house
builders Craft House-restorers : Radu Trifan and Florin Brebeanu.
We selected a few from the hundreds of the
existing photos, which describes how the house was restored.
an UNESCO world heritage monument from Transylvania
The Teutonic Knights constructed the fortress
Tartlau in 1212–1213 as part of their colonization of
the Burzenland region. The town of Prejmer near the castle
had begun development by 1225, and was the eastern-most settlement
of the Transylvanian Saxons. Prejmer was repeatedly invaded
throughout the Middle Ages by various groups, including the
Mongols, Tatars, Hungarians, Ottoman Turks, Cossacks, and Moldavians.
However, the castle was only captured once, by Gabriel Báthory
in 1611. Most of Prejmer's German population fled the town
during World War II.
Prejmer is noted for its fortified church,
one of the best preserved of its kind in Eastern Europe. Between
1962–1970, the Romanian government carefully restored
it to its present condition; the restoration work was done
under the direction of architect Mariana Angelescu and engineer
Alexandru Dobriceanu. The church is modeled after churches
of Jerusalem, as well as built in the style of Late Gothic
churches from the Rhineland. In the 15th century, it was surrounded
by a wall 12m high, forming a quadrilateral with rounded corners.
The wall was reinforced by four horseshoe-shaped towers, two
of which have since disappeared. The entrance—a vaulted
gallery—is protected by a barbican and flanked by a lateral
wall. The defensive structure is strengthened by embrasures
and bartizans, while the covered way is surrounded by a parapet.
The granaries and rooms that accommodated the villagers are
arranged on four levels above the cellars.
Inside the fortifications you'll find 272
rooms disposed on 3 levels. Each family in the village had
a room in the fortress. The whole family used to leave in such
a room in wartime. And they kept their provisions here in peace
times. The number of each room correspond to the number of
the house in the village.
Prejmer fotifications surrounding the church
Beside all ordinary defending things you
can see an unusual one. It's called "The Death's Organ". It's about
a device consisting of more guns which shut all at once and
brought panic among the enemy's rows.