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Dr. Gheorghe Baiulescu (1855–1935): Physician, Mayor, Prefect, Benefactor and Businessman
Gheorghe (George) Baiulescu was born in 1855, most likely in Brașov/ Kronstadt. He was the second child of priest Bartolomeu Baiul or Baiulescu (1831–1909) and Elena Gheorghiu (1834–1920), the daughter of a Romanian merchant from Wallachia. In 1855, Bartolomeu was the parish priest of the Orthodox Church of Zărnești, which is located 30 km away from Brașov, an important town in Transylvania with a significant German, Hungarian, and Romanian population. However, two years later, he became a priest at the Saint Nicholas Church in Brașov, where his son Gheorghe was baptized. The Baiulescu family had four children: Ioan (1852–1911), Gheorghe, Maria (1860–1941), and Romulus (1863–1941). The mother's origin from the south of the Carpathians contributed to the family's close ties with Romania, especially since Brașov was near the border between the Habsburg Empire and Romania. None of the three boys pursued a priestly career like their father. Ioan, a graduate of the Vienna University of Technology (1872–1877), settled in Romania and became a reputable railway and bridge construction specialist. He was a general inspector in the Ministry of Public Works and served as a professor at the School of Bridges and Roads. His brother Romulus also moved to Romania, where he became an engineer in the Ministry of Public Works and later headed railway management. The daughter, Maria Baiulescu, was a prominent figure in Transylvania, known for her extensive philanthropic activities, including assisting orphans and supporting women's emancipation.
Gheorghe studied at the Romanian gymnasium and high school in Brașov, where he graduated first in his class in 1872. He chose to pursue his medical studies not in Bucharest or Budapest but in Vienna. There, he specialized in balneology under the guidance of Dr. Wilhelm Winternitz (1835–1917). In addition to his medical pursuits, Gheorghe was a gifted violinist and attended the Vienna Conservatory. Furthermore, he was a passionate classical musician and published articles on this subject. Upon returning to Transylvania in 1880, he was appointed as the physician for the Romanian schools in Brașov, and he also served there as a professor of hygiene. He played a crucial role in improving the education of Romanian pupils and enhancing the general health of the people of Brașov. He achieved this by establishing the Baths of the Administration of Romanian Schools, which included medical baths open to all, gaining him recognition in Transylvania and Romania. In 1893, he was appointed as the district physician. His reputation grew significantly, especially after his book Medical Hydrotherapy was published in Bucharest in 1904.
The Council Square in Brașov in the 1920s, România Ilustrată, April 1929
In 1885, he married Maria (?–1929), the daughter of Manole Diamandi, a wealthy merchant, president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a philanthropist, and a politician closely aligned with the Romanian National Party of Transylvania. Manole Diamandi had a strong connection with Romania, not solely due to commercial interests but also because of his generous contributions supporting the War of Independence (1877–1878). It is worth noting that the Baiulescu and Diamandi families were acquainted well before this marriage. Maria, Gheorghe's wife, had a philanthropic role as well. However, it may be challenging to distinguish her activities in the press, as they could easily be confused with those of her sister-in-law, Maria B. Baiulescu.
Baiulescu House, a wedding gift from Manole Diamandi, https://www.metropola.ro/ro/ghid/brasov/descopera/turism/muzee/casa-baiulescu-/1637/
An advocate for the national rights of the Romanian minority in Hungary, in August 1916, G. Baiulescu unequivocally supported Romania's entry into World War I against Austria-Hungary. He had connections within the Romanian political elite, particularly with the Liberals, including engineer Ionel I.C. Brătianu (1864–1927), who served as Prime Minister from 1914 to 1918 (and held the office in later terms from 1922 to 1926 and 1927). Ionel Brătianu had been a colleague of Gheorghe's brothers at the Ministry of Public Works. In August 1916, under the Romanian military administration, Gheorghe Baiulescu was appointed as the mayor of Brașov. However, this appointment required him to follow the Romanian troops in retreat a month later. In May 1917, in Moldavia, along with Octavian Goga and Sever Bocu, he co-founded the National Committee of Romanians in Austro-Hungary and served as its president. His political activity aimed to support the Romanians in Transylvania and persuade them to abandon their allegiance to the Habsburg monarchy in favor of the Romanian state. In addition to his political involvement, he had a busy medical career, working in hospitals in Iași, Odessa, and Chișinău/Kishinev (Bessarabia). Due to his medical service, he was promoted to the rank of doctor Lieutenant Colonel.
The former mayor of Brașov became one of the prominent figures of the Transylvania emigrees during World War I and was a political partner of Brătianu. He served as the first prefect of Brașov County, appointed by the Transylvanian Ruling Council in January 1919. He held this position until December 1920, when he was promoted in Bucharest as a general administrative inspector of the Ministry of the Interior. This high-ranking public role was typically occupied by individuals who had demonstrated their organizational capabilities. They retained their office even after changes in the government. As a general administrative inspector, Baiulescu conducted inspections throughout the country, oversaw the prefectures, and advised the minister and the secretary-general of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. On certain occasions, as with Baiulescu, these high-ranking public officials were appointed as acting prefects for counties until a permanent prefect could be assigned, and this interim period could extend for several months. Consequently, Gheorghe Baiulescu served as the acting prefect of Brașov County on three separate occasions (December 1921 – January 1922, February 1923, and July 1923 – January 1924). His close ties to members of the National Liberal Party of the Old Kingdom predate 1916. Still, they became more pronounced after 1922, even though Baiulescu was a tenured prefect under various governments. In fact, in Brașov County, as well as in other Transylvanian counties after 1919, Baiulescu leveraged his influence to influence the appointment of prefects and other dignitaries, often to the benefit of his pre-war or refugee acquaintances.
Baiulescu's social and political involvement in the development of Brașov County was further complemented by his economic interests and various financial investments. He was a member of numerous boards of directors both before and after 1918. Several buildings in Brașov serve as reminders of his legacy: the Baiulescu House, gifted to Gheorghe and Maria by Manole Diamandi (on the present-day Eroilor Boulevard, no. 33) and later donated by the Baiulescu spouses to the city of Brașov, another house that would eventually become one of the headquarters of the local Communist Party (Nicolae Iorga Street, no. 2), and a villa constructed for his family in the 1920s (Nicolae Iorga Street, no. 26). Dr. Baiulescu also played a vital role as the founder and administrator of the Zărnești Cellulose Factory in the 1920s.
Maria and Gheorghe had two sons. Emil (1886–1967) pursued law studies, earning a doctorate in Law and becoming a judge in Brașov. Their second son, Aurel, was likely a law graduate. He served as a reserve cavalry captain. Tragically, his passion for gambling is believed to have led to his suicide via a morphine injection in a hotel room in Brașov in 1932. At the time of his suicide, his brother Emil held the position of president at the Brașov Court of Law.
Gheorghe Baiulescu passed away in 1935. He was interred, alongside other family members, in the cemetery of the Church of Saint Parascheva in Brasov, a church originally founded by his father.
The tomb of the Baiulescu family, the Church of Saint Parascheva cemetery in Brașov, Doctor Gheorghe Baiulescu Street, no. 16, https://scheiibrasovului.wordpress.com/tag/gheorghe-baiulescu/
Stéphanie Danneberg, “Der Kronstädter Händler Diamandi Manole (1833–1899)”, in Historia Urbana, XXII, 2014, p. 341–353.
“De la înmormântarea inginerului Ioan Baiulescu”, in Gazeta Transilvaniei, LXXII, no. 7, 12 January 1911, p. 3.
Adrian-Horia Enescu, Gabriel-Ion Necula, Prefecți ai județului Brașov de odinioară, 1919-1939, Libris Editorial, Brasov, 2019.
L.N., “O sărbătorire românească la Brașov”, in Adevărul, XLIII, no. 14388, 20 November 1930, p. 2.
“Dr. Med. Gheorghe Baiulescu”, in Gazeta Transilvaniei, an XCIII, no. 120, 16 November, 1930, p. 1–2.
“Sinuciderea tânărului Baiulescu din Brașov”, in Universul, an XLIX, no. 303, 3 November 1932, p. 5.
Petcan, “Dramatica sinucidere a d-rului Baiulescu”, in Dimineața, XXVIII, no. 9288, 3 November 1932, p. 8.