(Image source) The text below is taken and adapted from FB note "The historic Assan Mill in Bucharest on fire again" by Asociaţia ARA [Arhitectură. Restaurare. Arheologie] posted today, 10th June. My thanks to ARA for sharing this interesting background info, the photos of wilful destruction both past and present - and that it is in English, too, gets an extra round of applause. Thank you again, very much.
Assan Mill, one of the most important industrial monuments of Bucharest was ablaze again midday on Thursday. The flames, measured at some point to be as high as 4m above the silo, were eventually extinguished on Friday night after more than 30 hours. There is good reason to suspect arson, given that the compound was victim to such an act back in May 2008 and constantly vandalised and wilfully neglected for nearly a decade, following abandonment by its owners. [In addition, the mayor of Sector 2 Neculae Ontanu stated that there was no electrical current nor gas connection to the mill - thus, the only plausible cause of such a blaze was purposeful arson - even easier to believe when one considers that the price of the land beneath it is 47 million euros. Ontanu added, "Sanctions that relate to buildings in national heritage are set by the city Hall and the culture Ministry. Although I asked these institutions in 2009 to sanction the owners that failed to preserve this historical monument, no such measures were taken. I warn all those who think they will build something else here that Sector 2's mayor’s office will NEVER issue a construction authorisation for anything else than the reconstruction of these buildings, which are part of the city’s heritage,” - Sarah's note.]
The mill is a listed "grade A" historic monument (“of national and universal value”, according to Romanian law). The surviving buildings of the industrial compound stand on a 40,000 sqm plot on the inner ring road surrounding the historic town in an area which attracts developers. Land prices are as high as 1,000 Euro/sqm.
Established in 1853, Assan Mill was the first steam mill in Bucharest, originally powered by a Viennese “Siegel” engine, and constantly fitted with the best technology. The huge steam engine, weighing 7,000 kg, was brought on a ship from Vienna down the Danube to Giurgiu and then hauled up north on oxen carts to Bucharest in a journey that took six weeks. Once installed and running, it made a strong impression on the inhabitants, who nicknamed the plant “Assan’s Steam-Boat” or “The Fire Mill from the Cattle Market” (due to its vicinity to the city’s cattle market). It soon became an attraction and a landmark. On its fiftieth anniversary in 1903 a large public clock, later dubbed “Assan’s Clock”, was installed on the higher part of the main building, keeping time for this part of Bucharest for many years. The iconic high silo was also built at this period from 1903 to 1906 and with its 41m height, it became the tallest building in Bucharest.
The public authorities have been passing responsibility from one to the other for years, despite specific duties defined by law at all levels, from the ministry to the mayor. Repeated emergency calls from civil society were left unanswered. A representative for the Ministry for Culture and National Heritage declared on Friday that the institution would initiate a by-law to prevent such destruction to historic monuments in the future. [yeah, right - Sarah's note]
In Bucharest exists a documented practice of setting historic monuments alight so as to clear land for development.... [nuff said - Sarah's note]
Documentation and photographs: AIR - Asociaţia pentru Arheologie Industrială