The Mihai Eminescu Trust has been active in Romania since 1987, and since 1999 has been implementing its Whole Village Project, assisting the conservation of churches, historic villages, and the regeneration of the traditional rural communities within them. It has also recently commissioned a full feasibility study into the repair and reopening of the Sibiu - Agnita narrow guage railway.
In June 2000 the Trust was asked to restore important urban facades in the town of Cisnadie, near Sibiu, the capital of Transylvania. The restoration, carried out by a team of trainees from Viscri, attracted such attention that the Trust was also invited to restore four facades in Sibiu, in cooperation with a Federal German Government agency and Sibiu Town Hall, and a fašade in the main square of the historic fortified city of Sighisoara (a Unesco World Heritage Site). The Trust received international awards for this work.
Our conservation philosophy is to preserve old buildings changing as little as possible, and always retaining as many of the original interior and exterior features and fittings as we can. If we have to replace handles, hinges, locks, window frames, shutters and stucco work - we use local craftsmen and materials.
In 2001 we started conservation training in Transylvania. We trained seven men - our A team- both in the Saxon villages and in the towns of Sibiu and Sighisoara. In October 2002 a German organization (GTZ) awarded us first, second and third prizes for our restoration work in Sibiu. The restoration of the facade of the House on the Rock in Sighisoara, completed by us at the end of the summer 20o1, is also much admired. In 2003 and 2004 British conservation trainers taught a second wave of builders in lime mortar techniques as well as masonry, metalwork and joinery.
A new programme of training will start in Spring 2005, under the guidance of Master Stone Mason Henry Rumbold, aided by conservation specialist Steve Finney (See Training section on this website).
The Trust was also pleased in 2002 to announce a collaboration with the Journeymen from West Germany - to whom we give a grant and whose house in Sibiu we have helped restore. These brilliant young craftsmen - metal workers, joiners, masons and fine plasterworkers - are based in Romania for several months at a time and help us train in the Saxon villages. One important piece of their work for us has been to install a new roof on the beautiful church in Floresti - once belonging to the Bethlen family. Although this church is deconsecrated, the MET hopes to repair its interior - and give it new life. The intention is for it to become a place for village celebrations and exhibitions.
Our house next to the Leather
Coat Makers' tower in Sighisoara.
We are renovating a flat in the
central square of Sighisoara.
MET trustee, with architect and