28, Mihai Viteazu Boulevard
Construită la începutul sec. XX în stilul Secession,.casa arhitectului László Székely este una dintre clădirile emblematice ale cartierului Elisabetin.
Born in Salonta in 1877, László Székely studied architecture within The Technical University of Budapest from where he graduated in 1899 and later continued to study in Italy. He settled in Timisoara in 1903, following the mayor's Telbisz invitation to accept the new position of chief architect within the City Hall, opening at the same time a private architecture workshop. Over the course of two decades of activity as chief architect he designed public institutions, schools, sanatoriums, industrial buildings, mansions, villas and houses. He is the author of numerous iconic buildings from Timișoara, among which we mention: The Piarist Complex, The City Slaughterhouse, Neptun Palace, The Hydro-Electric Water Plant, etc. He also designed buildings in other cities such as Salonta or Vršac. In 1922 he retired, working only as a private architect. His name remains associated with the urban and architectural development of Timisoara in the first two decades of the twentieth century because of the original and unmistakable character.
Although László Székely designed a series of imposing palaces in Timișoara in the early twentieth century, being one of the most important exponents of the local Secession, compared with these palaces, his house on M. Viteazu Boulevard, where he also had his own personal architectural office, is a relatively modest one, but which retains the characteristics of the personal style of the architect.
Built between 1908 and 1909, in the Secession style ‘geometrized period’, as if foreshadowing the Art Deco style and the modern interwar one, the László Székely house has an asymmetrical volume, consisting of two adjacent parts, the northern part being higher. This one volumetric break marks the separation of the two functions, that of living quarters and that of office space. The main façade is minimally decorated at the level of the window frames, otherwise there is an alternation of geometric shapes - developed vertically and horizontally. Located opposite the Mühle House, the home of the former chief architect of Timisoara is one of the emblematic buildings from the Elisabetin district.
1. Nicoleta Demian et alii, Personalități bănățene, Muzeul Național al Banatului, Timișoara, 2018, p. 37.
2. Opriș Mihai, Botescu Mihai, Arhitectura istorică din Timișoara, Tipar S.C. Tempus S.R.L, Timișoara, 2014, ISBN 978-973-1958-28-6.
Pia Brînzeu, Family Journal, Manuscript
Stop 7: The house of Chief Architect Székelv László
May 12, 1960. I’m studying for my history test. I’m sitting, concentrated, at a small table in the dining room, crowded in by books and notebooks because I don’t have my own desk, nor, obviously, do I have a room of my own. Although the house is very big, built at the end of the 19th century, with seven spacious rooms, it is now filled with tenants and we, the two children, the parents and the grandmother, only have the dining room and two bedrooms at our disposal.
I’m waiting for lunch. I’m a bit hungry, but the family tradition is that we only eat after father comes home, even if he’s caught up at the hospital, as it most often happens. Our entire family life revolves around him, the head of the family, and we, the children, do not have a say. If we are hungry, we have no choice but to be patient, because lunch is only served when we are all together. It’s a ritual that takes almost two hours, a good opportunity to commune. That’s when we get educated, when we find out what else is new at the C.F.R. Hospital, where Father works now. It’s when we hear Grandmother telling us the latest news about our relatives in Austria and also the time when we can confess our school marks or our mischief in the playground. The cooked dinner is served at seven o’clock in the evening, and we cannot miss or be late for that either.
Mother has no higher education; she went to a college for the daughters of the well-to-do in Budapest, where she learnt how to be a wife. A devoted wife knows how to dedicate herself to her family and how to run a household as if running a company: she has all sorts of employees, who must be coordinated and paid. In general, in the kitchen worked young Székelys who came from Transylvania to learn, in their turn, how to cook and run a household. They were free on Thursday and Sunday evening and they used to go for a walk with some soldier in training and, when they returned, around 10 in the evening, they used to kiss in the gate passageway, where nobody could see them. That’s why Mother would often repeat: “Never kiss like servants, under the gateway”. It was an interdiction which I didn’t really observe because the place was perfect for a stealthily given goodbye kiss.
There were also other employees: a gardener, a woman did the laundry, and a Hungarian carpenter, Mr. Pataki, who could fix everything. The deep cleaning days or when the laundry was done once a month also had their own routines. The laundry was sorted the night before, the whites were separated from the coloured and tied up in big sheets, which were carried down into the basement. There was a cauldron there for boiling the white laundry in lye and a big wooden trough, where the laundrywoman washed them by hand the entire day. Then she would starch them and take them up into the attic, where she would hang them to dry. Sometimes there would ten tablecloths, thirty napkins and countless bed sheets. The monogrammed damask napkins were the last symbols of an aristocratic life. When the laundrywoman got old and left us, Mother had no choice but to replace them with paper napkins. This was dramatic for her because it announced the end of a beautiful era, in which Mother was the lady of the house. Gradually, the cook, the gardener, and then Mr. Pataki also left us, and when we ended up having our meals in the kitchen, where only servants used to eat before, Mother finally understood she could no longer perpetuate a pre-war way of life. From company manager she turned into her own employee and ended up working simultaneously as a cook, laundrywoman, and gardener. My mother’s little tragedy seemed to me the sure sign of feminist modernization: by doing everything you were becoming stronger, you inevitably turned into a multi-tasking, successful woman. I didn’t realize, though, that by becoming multi-tasking and successful, the postmodern woman forgets how to do her job as a wife well...