Heritage of Timișoara

Elisabetin 5 General Henri Berthelot str.

Dr. Adolf Vértes Apartment Building

Completion date:

August 30, 1910

  • Architect: Arch. László Székely
  • Former Owner: Dr. Adolf Vértes
  • Construction authorization: October 4, 1909
  • Property type: Private property
  • Protection type: Historical Site
    Urban site "Vechiul cartier Iosefin"
  • Main arch. style Art Nouveau/Secession
  • Current condition Fair
  • Planimetry Irregular
  • No. of levels 3
  • Current functions Multiple property

Plevnei Square is recognised today as one of the most relevant samples of 1900s’ architecture in Timișoara, an area with multiple aesthetic, urban and landscape design qualities. But this has not always been so. Until 1904, this space was an animal market with no constructions. The change came when the interdiction to build was eliminated and the animal market was moved. Subsequently, a series of successful industrialists and merchants from turn of the century Timișoara started erecting apartment buildings here. 

The main difference between this area and other similar areas newly available for construction was the chosen architecture program. If, in other places, the apartment buildings had commercial spaces at ground level, in the case of Plevnei Square there was a decision to only construct residential buildings without the commercial component. As a consequence, today the space is defined by relatively small two storey buildings. The only exception are two buildings located on the south side of the square that are three storeys high. Out of the two, the one on the corner of General Berthelot stands out as a compositional dominant through its commanding silhouette, its heraldic ornaments and the iron finial at the top of the corner tower of the building.     

The apartment building used to belong to Adolf Vértes, a well-known lawyer in Timișoara and one of the most active and involved people in the social and cultural life of the city. Born in 1861 in Szeged, Vértes settled in Timișoara where he occupied a series of public functions: deputy for Cetate II in the Town Hall Council (starting with 1899), member in the Commission for Public Law and in the Legislative Commission, President of the Neolog Jewish Community in Timișoara, Co-President of the National Israelit Office of Transylvania’s Banat, President of The Bar in Timișoara, Director and main stakeholder of the hats factory, initiator of several philanthropic actions and President of the charitable and self-help association “Barron Mór Hirsch”, President of the Administration Council of the Jewish Highschool, as well as Grand Master of the Grand Freemason Lodge Lonsonczy.    

Dr. Adolf Vértes was also known as a passionate chess player, representing the chess school in Timișoara in numerous international competitions. As Vice-President of the local chess club, he organized a chess tournament in Timișoara in 1912. Details about his participation in chess tournaments can be found in the Budapest press. For example, in 1893, Budapesti Sakk-Szemle magazine writes of Vértes’s participation in the Budapest Chess Tournament, mentioning both his trajectory, as well as some of the moves in his games. 

Coming back to his apartment building in Elisabetin, the construction was erected in 1910 according to the plans of the architect László Székely in the style of the 1900s, in particular the Secession current. The building is remarkable through its geometrical details that define the general plastic of the facade, the generous use of wrought iron, the volumetric relations between the jutting sections and the two-level bay windows, the play between the silhouettes of the pediments and the rounded tower that dominates the street. Another thing that stands out is the presence, under the first floor windows, of decorative elements inspired by military architecture (shooting holes) reinterpreted in the style of the 1900s. 

Above the entrance to the building located on General Berthelot Street, integrated in an oval fanlight, we find the remains of a delicate stained glass window. The drawing in the medallion is still a mystery of local built heritage. The same section of the building presents another sad story: under the windows on the second floor, symmetrically positioned on each side of the entrance, there used to be two bas-reliefs depicting female busts; today one of them is missing.

But the building still guards some surprises on the inside. Stepping inside the access hallway, we notice the abundant decoration and the bas-relief frieze that ornates both sides. One last outstanding detail is the wrought iron handrail of the stairs, decorated with geometrical tulips.

Dr. Adolf Vértes died in 1930, after a long illness. He spent his last days at János Sanatorium in Budapesta. His body was brought to Timișoara in August that year. He was buried with ceremony and many Jewish dignitaries attended. Starting from his death until 1940, what is now known as Dr. Nicolae Păulescu Street bore the name of Dr. Adolf Vértes in honor and memory of him. Today, the building, though in an advanced state of decay, keeps alive the story of one of the most active men from the beginning of the last century’s Timișoara.

Authors of this file:

Research & text: Mihai-Claudiu Moldovan

Field research & mapping: Vlad Pată (coordonator)

Translation into English: Cristina Chira

Photographer: Flavius Neamciuc

Last modified: 3 years ago

Published on: 19 October 2019

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Add your contribution to this building!

Written by Jicman Ligia, 3 years ago

Buna ziua.
Sunt sahista, maestra internationala la sah.
Scriu o carte despre sahisti, inainte de al doilea razboi monddial.
Am intrat in posesia unei fotografii cu sahisti, care este efectuata inaintea primului razboi mondial.
Intre ei, este posibil sa fie si Adolf Vertes.
As vrea sa discut cu cineva care a cercetat si cunoaste aceasta personalitate.
Ligia Jicman.

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