Streets: Aristizza Romanescu, Petre Liciu, Verzișori
The neighborhood south of Piața Mare (today Unirii) on the banks of Dâmboviţa, was-ever since the 19th century-the place where the tanneries set up their workshops to dispose of their waste in Dâmbovița, without affecting the city center. The streets of this neighborhood still bear the original names (Tăbăcarilor, Morilor, Lânăriei). The tanneries were replaced at the beginning of the 20th century with industrial factories such as “Talpa”, “Grigore Alexandrescu” (“Dâmbovița”) and “Sapatino” (“Bourul”). România Muncitoare described the situation of the tanners in this neighborhood in dark tones: “The tanner works 10 hours a day. It’s a tiring and dirty job. He is exploited by the capitalist in an inhumane manner and yet he cares not and endures this shameful and foul oppression. […] He is persecuted, sworn at and mocked, he is not regarded to be a man, he is even threatened with beatings by the supervisors of the factories”. Nonetheless, the Verzișori-Tăbăcari lotissement was not built for them.
Approval chronology and lotissement history
The Municipal Company begun the construction of a new one-“Cartierul Tăbăcarilor”, completed between 1923 and 1927, on the streets that are called today Aristizza Romanescu and Petre Liciu. In this lotissement, the Company designed and executed 25 semi-detached houses. The land on which the Company executed the lotissement was part of the lots that the Municipal Council had sold to the Company in 1910 and was located in the third sector, third ring. The land, with an area of 14,686 square meters, had been close to being chosen in 1909 for the construction of the first houses, but, eventually, the Communal Council opted for Lânăriei Street. As a result, the City Hall rented this land, to be used as a vegetable garden. In 1914, the Company decided to plot the land and build the first houses: “In order to start the housing construction […], please kindly measure, handover and finalize the definitive documents for sale for this land. […] With respects to the lotissement, we will consider what was sent to us by the City Hall […] on October 20, 1914 “. Dimitrie Mohor drew up the lotissement and house plans and construction could begin. The plan provided for the opening of two streets, which the Nomenclature Commission named in memory of two famous actors of the period, Petre Liciu (1871–1912) and Aristizza Romanescu (1854–1918). Housing construction has been blocked by delays in renting land and by the starting of the war.On July 1922, the director of the Company, N. I. Georgescu, asked for the building permit to the City Hall. The lotissement plans were modified, and the Technical Commission and, subsequently, the Superior Technical Council approved the lotissement on July 25, 1923.
Finally, the lotissement was approved at the end of 1923, by royal decree. The construction probably began in the spring of 1924 and consisted of six E-type apartments (with a cellar and two storeys), eight B1 apartments, a sanatorium for impoverished women and a dispensary. The plans were signed by Dimitrie Mohor, and the lotissement plan by Fr. Reiss. These were not fully respected, as two type E houses(coupled) were replaced by a type B1. On Verzișori Street, the Company has designed more complex types, which were derivations of type E. The aerial photography of 1927 certifies the completion of the houses, as does a letter signed by the engineer Stoica, the director of the company, on October 11, 1927.
The national style is represented in these houses as well, in the design of the bellevues, which were supported by wooden pillars with floral motifs and rich frames around the semicircular windows. The fences that delimited the properties were made of wood, and all the houses are surrounded by a flower garden. The company used building materials similar to those of the previous lotissements: concrete, brick, and the roof made of eternit. However, the beneficiaries have reported several mistakes in the execution of their new homes. The company made a series of technical mistakes in the construction of the foundations that caused this reaction of the inhabitants and brought forth the necessity to renovate the houses shortly after the inauguration. This is the only case documented by the historical sources in which problems are demonstrated in the execution of the houses of the Municipal Company.
The same sources reveal the beneficiaries of the houses, confirming that they had not been distributed to the tanners residing in the neighborhood, but to state officials. Florian Vasilescu, inspector at the Ministry of Finance, had bought the house on Petre Liciu street, no. 24 in 1927, by contracting a loan from the Ministry of Finance Officials’ Credit House. The inspector worked in the ministry since 1899 (so he had 28 years tenure), was married, had no children and was to retire soon. Vasilescu had borrowed 500,000 lei from the Credit House and, together with the 220,000 he owned, had paid the Company the requested price for the house. This was a B1 type home, consisting of ground floor, three bedrooms, bathroom, kitchen, servants’ room, toilet and pantry. The plot was about 210 sqm, and the construction-98 sqm. In a letter sent to the Company on September 23, 1932, Vasilescu invoked a series of problems he faced with respects to execution of the house, the most important being that the foundations and cellars had been affected by the Merulius Lacrimans fungus. The official demanded the house to be repaired or requested another house from the Company in which to move, mentioning the following: “I informed you that my house on 24, Petre Liciu street, is infected by fungal spores, which rotted the wood below the parquet. […] I had heard from Mr. Lupan, Mr. Rush, Mr. Bădescu, etc. -the owners from numbers 17, 26, 19, that mushrooms came out through the parquet, both in my case and in the case of the neighbor from number 22, Caracudovici, with whom I share a house wall”.
Apparently, the problem of the house was not unique, as it affected the other inhabitants of the lotissement. To identify and remedy the problem, the Company delegated its chief architect, who noted the existence of rot under the parquet and the need to renovate the house. The steps to restore the floor were costly and required a long time: removing the parquet, the sheathing, the doors and the wooden furniture, removing the soil and replacing the entire basement with other materials. The official also offered a possible explanation for this state situation: “My house, like the other houses built on Petre Liciu street in 1927, are located on a land that had formerly been a riverbed of the Dâmbovița river, or which had been flooded by the overflows of this river until it was channeled. Afterwards, it served as a vegetable garden and it was filled with manure[…] ”. Vasilescu reckoned that: “The Municipal Company for Low Cost Housing made, a fundamental mistake when placing the houses on this land… another mistake was that it did not replace the land that contained manure with dry yellow soil, covered with slag, sand or coal dust, although the best solution would have been to pour concrete and asphalt. The third mistake is that, although the floors were located on this soil, they had not been tarred, when we know that even the peasant builders do not put beams in the immediate vicinity of the soil, unless they have been covered in heating oil”.
Conclusively, the official held the opinion that he had every reason to consider himself wronged by the situation he was in and chose to move. The Municipal Company offered him another house in Raion Park, on 12 Ismail Street. Another complaint had been made in May 1932, by Vasile Marinescu, who requested the intervention of the municipality in order to solve the same issue with his building on Aristizza Romanescu street. The other beneficiaries were civil servants, doctors, engineers and teachers, which were among the few who could afford the purchase of a Municipal Company house. The high price of the houses was also caused by the auctioning method, the prices varying between 425,000 and 700,000 lei at that time, depending on the type. The auction notice explicitly mentioned that only Romanian citizens who did not own other properties were accepted and had the means to pay the 10% advance money. According to the 1931 Petre street numbering table, most of the inhabitants in the lotissement were of Jewish origin. It is possible that they were evacuated from homes in the late 1930s and 1940s, based on the anti-Semitic legislation adopted after 1938.
The Verzișori-Tăbăcari lotissement was close to being entirely demolished for the widening of Lânăriei street, that became Șincai boulevard. According to testimonies, there were many Jews living in the lotissement in the 1930s, probably having to move in the 1940s or after the end of World War II.