Lens-Vernescu House

Located at 133 Victoriei Avenue, Lenş-Vernescu House is one of the oldest still-preserved boyar mansions in Bucharest. As the name reveals, it was built by Great Treasurer and Chancellor Filip Lenş (1779-1858), a “genealogical imposture” according to genealogist Emanoil Hagi Moscu (“Memories of a City. Old Walls, Disappeared Figures”). Filip Lenş was an interesting figure of his time. Born as natural son of French merchant Jean Baptiste Linchou, secretary of Wallachian Prince Alexander Ypsilanti (1725-1805), and a gipsy girl, slave of boyar Dumitrache Hriscoscoleu Buzoianu, Filip Lenş married the daughter of a high-ranking Walachia boyar. This was only his first step in going up in life. Shrewd and unscrupulous, he soon managed to gain a fabulous fortune “through gambling, intrigues and inspired speculations”. According to the account of von Kreuchely, the Prussian consul in Bucharest, Filip Lenş’ mansion was “one of the largest and most beautiful in Bucharest”. During the Crimean War, the halls that today shelter the gambling tables of a Casino, housed the General Headquarters of the Tsarist Army lead by Prince Chancellor Peter Dimitrievich Gorchakov, general of the VI army corps. Between March and June 1854 the Prince was often visited in this house by one of his distant relatives, a young artillery officer named Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy, later the famous writer. He had been mobilized here together with the XII army corps operating along the Danube and on the territory of the Romanian Principalities.

The second owner of the house was magistrate Gheorghe Dimitrie (Gună) Vernescu (1828-1900), also deputy, senator, minister and publicist. He restored the old mansion between 1887 and 1889 employing the services of architect Ion Mincu and painter G.D. Mirea who made the interior decorations and painted the ceilings of the first floor halls. The most remarkable of these painting is the allegoric scene representing the Dance, framed by four cartouches illustrating the Justice, the Temperance, the Strength, and the Truth.

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