Why can wall research be useful? The example of Vehiculum House in Besenyszög

Why can wall research be useful? The example of Vehiculum House in Besenyszög


The local government of Besenyszög has successfully applied for the Kubinyi Ágoston Programme for years, from which the Museum Educational Member Institution of the Vehiculum House – Museum Collection of Public Interest has been and is being developed. As the monitoring tasks of the Kubinyi Ágoston Programme are the responsibility of the Central Directorate of Hungarian Country House Museums, we have carried out an on-site inspection. At that time, the house next to the building was also shown, and we were informed that there had been once a grocery store in that building. This was purchased by the municipality council and made available to the museum, so a country house museum is intended to be set up there with a real, functioning grocery store in which local produce would be sold. The building on the plot at 16 Jászladányi út needs to be renovated, and several questions had risen about its history, which neither research nor interviews were able to shed light on. Therefore, the head of the institution, Melinda Molnár asked for the assistance of the Central Directorate of Hungarian Country Houses, so a detailed wall research was conducted by our architects Anna Szuromi and Miklós Buzás on 11 April 2019.

The dwelling house was built of adobe brick in the 1920s, it is whitewashed and covered with concrete tiles. It may have originally had some lighter roofing, presumably reeds, as the original beams of the roof structure is reinforced, which could be clearly seen when the attic was visually inspected. In the slope of the roof, a sharp fracture could be observed, which had been formed due to the new covering material, as the part facing the grocery shop were covered with tiles. It was probably originally covered like this, as the angle of the slope here is not suitable for reed cover. Earlier we thought that this part, under which the grocery store had been located, was only later added to the original building, but an examination of the roof revealed that the structure was uniform, presumably originally the house was built as it currently looks. This is also supported by the fact that there is no crack in the supposed location of the splice in the street front of the building.

One of the main issues of the wall research was the location and nature of the oven. There was also a visible extension on the floor of the kitchen and the room, which indicated that the built-in oven had been demolished in both rooms when the wooden floor was already in place. A crack was visible on the wall painted with rolled patterns, indicating the probable location of the oven. This was proved when we started to remove the top paint and lime layers and then the plaster, as the curved outline of the oven was nicely visible in the room. There were also several layers of plastering and painting inside the arch of the former oven, as when a new layer was applied it was always glued to the paint and the new layer was also painted. We could observe many more layers on the wall section next to the furnace, which is due to the fact that the room had received a new layer of plaster and paint several times even when the furnace was already in place. They were painted in a single colour, the lowest light green, above it light blue. The next was a simple layer of white lime, at which time the oven was also demolished, as this is visible all along the wall of the former site of the oven. In the area below the oven, even a layer of cement was found under the white lime layer. Subsequent layers of paint were made with a rolled pattern, of which we were able to distinguish three: a silvery bottom layer, a blue patterned middle layer, and a pink top layer that still covers the room today.

A further goal of the wall research was to find the oven mouth that connected the room and kitchen stoves. Within the arc of the oven, however, yellow bricks different from the original dark brown adobe bricks of the house were discovered over almost the entire surface. From this it can be concluded that when the oven had been demolished, this intermediate wall section fell out, which was replaced with new bricks, so due to the destruction of this section the oven mouth was not found. The oven bank was not found either, as the plinth part of the room had also been repaired once and all the layers had been knocked off the wall, all the way to the bricks, so the traces had been destroyed. Further yellowish-coloured adobe bricks were also visible in the kitchen area, and the shape of the oven was revealed more by the floor extension: there was a ‘vindófli’ (closed-system chimney called climbing chimney) originally, we did not see any traces of a vaulted chimney.

The other part in question was the existence or non-existence of a door between the room and the shop. Several informants were interviewed by the staff of Vehiculum House, and there were several conflicting opinions as to whether there had been a passage between the two rooms. In the middle of the wall section connecting the two rooms, two vertical cracks were observed, so along these we also started to remove the top paint and lime layers and then the plaster. In addition to the original dark brown bricks, we also discovered newer yellowish bricks here, so it is safe to say that there had been a door between the two rooms, and this was probably walled up when the oven was demolished.

Consequently, to the question why wall research is useful for a country house museum, the answer is because it can shed light on the history of the building, and the linear timeline of which can be nuanced based on the results of the research. In the case of Besenyszög, the long-disputed questions were also answered with its help. Wall research could also actually be called a kind of treasure hunt, as we might come across things that can add more to the history of the building and the family having lived there, but we can also find some rare painted motif or even an object.


Prikler Szilvia Beatrix