Culture

There is hope for the Mühle House in the “City of Roses”

Three years after a court’s ruling obliging the owner of the Mühle House to restore the historical monument to its original state, a “construction site” sign has finally appeared at the prestigious villa in Temesvár/Timișoara. Unfortunately, the owner has asked City Hall for help turning on the electricity in order to actually start the renovations.

The story of the Mühle House is well-known and dates back many years. At the center of the story is a family that brought prestige to the city and spread news of its existence throughout Europe. But there is also a sordid story concerning the robbery of real estate in Transylvania after 1989, an affair connecting wealthy Roma families, judges, lawyers, public notaries and officers of the Land Registry and City Hall – all complicit in the robbery.

The story begins with a young gardener from Bohemia named Wilhelm Mühle (1845-1908) who decided to move to the up-and-coming civic and industrial city of Temesvár/Timișoara. He found employment at the gardening business of Ferenc Niemetz and then established his own firm in 1875.

Wilhelm Mühle, portrait from József Ferenczy

He soon became an upstanding member of the local business community and purveyor of flowers, wreaths and ornamental shrubbery to three royal houses (Austro-Hungarian, Romanian and Serbian). He eventually donated a large part of his gardens to the city, an area that now houses the campus of the local technical university. As shown on a map from 1913, after his death, a boulevard was even named after him where the gardens are located.

Mühle had built his villa on the site of his gardening business in 1886, which was later inherited by his son, Árpád. A landscape architect himself, Árpád not only continued to improve the villa and its surrounding gardens, but also created Temesvár’s beautiful Roses Park.

The last descendant of the Mühle family left Romania in 1992 and bestowed the house and its fairly large plot to the city, on condition that a rose museum be built there. The city, however, sold the house for a small fraction of its actual market value to a former officer of the dreaded communist secret service, the Securitate. The officer, in turn, sold it to the city’s Roma real estate mafia, the Cârpaci clan, for EUR 100,000. The plot alone is currently worth around EUR 500,000-600,000.

The Cârpaci clan wanted to demolish the villa and build a garish Gypsy palace there, but luckily city planners rejected the idea. Shortly thereafter, the new owners somehow procured an architect’s assessment that the roof of the building was unsafe, enabling them to remove it. They then proceeded to wait for time and the elements to do their work, hoping to then be able to demolish the exposed walls. However, city locals stepped in and organized a street protest to raise awareness of the situation and save the building.

The Temesvár/Timișoara City Hall won a lawsuit against the Cârpaci clan in September 2016, and the Court obliged owner Mihai Ion Nelson Cârpaci to bring the villa back to its initial state. After the renovation is complete, City Hall has the right to expropriate the property. In October 2019, local counselors allocated a budget of RON 580,000 for the expropriation and renovation of Mühle House.

“According to the verdict, he has to bring the building back to its initial state,” Nicolae Robu, mayor of Temesvár/Timișoara, clarified.

Right now the current owner, Mihai Ion Nelson Cârpaci, has a building permit for the reconstruction of the building, with an estimated construction cost of EUR 60,000. The owner, however, apparently is unable to turn on the electricity in order to start the renovations and has thus asked City Hall for help…

What happens next? Local authorities will keep an eye on the reconstruction of Mühle House. Once the renovation is finalized, expropriation will be possible, and the mayor plans to establish a Mühle museum, but there is still a long way to go.

 

Featured photo: justitiecurata.ro

Author: Blanka Székely