Romanian farmhouse preserved

The Paulencu House is the last known surviving example of a traditional Romanian-style farmhouse from Manitoba’s settlement era.

Its three-part rectangular plan, vernacular design and log construction, brought from the Carpathian Mountain region of Eastern Europe, adeptly blend functional and esthetic elements that extend beyond the basic requirements of a simple, sturdy but comfortable pioneer home.

Beneath the high hipped roof with its traditional-style rounded corners is an attic smokehouse. The wide overhanging eaves, resourcefully supported by flared log brackets, provide shade and protect the mud-plastered walls.

The east room, typically accorded a special religious significance, features carefully‐hewn ceiling beams with carved details.

Constructed in 1906 for John and Mary Paulencu, formerly from Voloca, Romania, the structure was one of several almost identical dwellings constructed on adjacent homesteads in the Lennard district north of Russell.

The area received its first settlers in 1901 and grew to become the only largely‐homogenous Romanian-settled district in Manitoba.

In 1992, members of the St. Elie Pioneer Church Museum Inc., having successfully completed the restoration of the district’s original 1908 log church a few years earlier, hastily reorganized to rescue the Paulencu House from imminent destruction.

It was moved one kilometre to a newly purchased one-acre parcel located adjacent to the St. Elie Romanian Orthodox Church site and in 1993 the long process of restoration began. It was designated a provincial heritage site on March 1, 1993 and, although benefiting from provincial technical and financial assistance, the bulk of the work and funding was provided by local and former residents of the area.

Keeping the restoration authentic required some ingenuity, particularly when it came to constructing the curved corners on the roof and locating and mixing suitable types of clay, straw, sand, lime and horse manure mixtures to recreate the progressively finer layers of mud plaster coating the interior and exterior walls of the structure. Restoration was completed in time for the parish’s 100th anniversary which was celebrated on August 2 and 3, 2003.

The Paulencu House, together with nearby 1908 and 1952 church structures and the immaculately maintained cemetery grounds, is a popular tourist site and is a much-loved and highly visible symbol of the community’s cultural roots. Additional information can be obtained online, at: www.gov.mb.ca/chc/hrb/prov/p074.html; www.stelijahpioneermu seum.ca/paulencuhouse.php and www.mani toba eh.ca/Sp 32 St Elijah Church Inglis.htm.

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