Field clues for evaluating the construction date of a period house

Oltenia's coat of arms within a Neo-Romanian decorative panel, house dating from 1919 - '21, Vasile Lascar area, Bucharest. (©Valentin Mandache)

The Neo-Romanian decorative panel in the photograph above consists of vine branches and leaves, having at its centre the coat of arms of the Oltenia province, a historical region similar in size with Wales, located in south western Romania. The owner of the house wanted probably to state through this representation his origins or connections with this old Romanian province. The heraldic sign comprises of a shield on which is depicted a crowned lion raising up from a ban crown. A ban is an old medieval Hungarian term for regional governor, dating from the times when Oltenia was a Hungarian province, over five centuries ago. The lion also holds between its forelegs a six pointed star. I like how this heraldic sign gives excellent clues about the year when the house was built. It is a version of the coat of arms in use between 1872 and 1921. On the other hand, the panel and the whole house façade is made from moulded concrete, a material which started to be used on a larger scale in Romania after the end of the Great War. Moreover, the typology of the stylised vine branches is also characteristic for the early 1920s. All of these features lead me to the view that the house, or at least this particular house section, has been built sometime between 1919 and 1921. Of course that has to be confirmed with archive documents, but through experience and observation I am by and large positive that I am somewhere close to the construction date stated in deeds. The date thus evaluated helps me better understand in situ the architectural history context of that house, the materials and technologies used and formulate an initial guidance to the house owner regarding the restoration/ renovation of his/her period property or its market value range.


I endeavor through this daily 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.


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.