All those who love the architecture of the Constanta Casino have been waiting for ages for the derelict symbolic building of the city to be rehabilitated. One can shoot a film out of the dramas of the Constanta Casino’s life that could beat the box office record. It has known glory and decay for many times, it knows what it is like to be wealthy, but also dirt poor. Its problems have started ever since it was in the design phase and are still going on. It is a unique building in the world and could be a goldmine for authorities.
During World War I, the Casino was destroyed by a bomb and was rehabilitated despite the economic problems
I was saying that the history of the Casino repeats itself. During World War I, the most beautiful building of the city by the sea was a field hospital. The Casino was destroyed after a bomb had fallen on it. It was hardly rebuilt because it was thought that repairing the Casino would be a frivolous thing in the situation in which hospitals, schools and other buildings had to be repaired with public funds. Even now the economic situation is not too good, but the rehabilitation of the building is a priority, since it is a historic monument with a unique architecture in the world.
The Casino, the only building in the world with three foundations
As early as the design phase, the Casino has faced problems. It is the only building in the world that has three foundations, so it cannot be eclipsed by any other building from this point of view. It was raised on a headland drawn from the sea. The first foundation was designed by architect Daniel Renard. Then, Daniel Renard left with the liberals from the city’s leadership, and the conservatives came. Mayor Ion Bănescu chose architect Petre Antonescu to continue the work. He had another vision, another national style project, and made a second set of foundations to put his work into practice. Petre Antonescu is the author of the Sinaia Casino, which is also very beautiful. The mandate was over, the elections came, the conservatives left, and the liberals came back in charge. Daniel Renard was called upon to continue his work, and when he saw that his project had been changed, he said: “My foundations have been damaged!” So, a third row of foundations were made. This is one of the things that individualizes the Casino.
The Constanta Casino is built on a patch of land drawn from the sea
The Casino is original and unique in the world because it is built on a patch of land drawn from the sea before 1910. Thus, no other building can compete, from this point of view, with the gem of Constanta. Prior to the start of the works, the city used to end high up, where there is Queen Elizabeth Boulevard now, and where the boardwalk and the Casino are currently, it was the sea. The promenade on the seashore where we walk fondly, inhabitants and tourists alike, was a grand project designed by the prefect of those times, Scarlat Vârnav. Anghel Saligny was the one who had the courage to deliver it since 1903. Back then, Saligny coordinated the construction works of the Port of Constanta. In order to make the boardwalk outside the Casino, both his genius and the experience of the port engineers, as well as the equipment that had been brought from the port on this occasion were necessary.
The Casino was not an appreciated building, and architect Renard was permanently offended
Architect Daniel Renard was given many invectives. The Casino was made either profiterole, or a hearse. An entire denigration campaign was carried out. It was a building too modern for the people of those times. It was 1903, and Art Nouveau appeared in Paris at the end of the nineteenth century. This project synchronized with what was the newest in Europe at that time. This novelty came in a city where there were elements that felt we should get back to our national architecture and not to things related to this modernist language.
Even after the opening of the Casino, the building was accompanied by tons of invectives. Certainly, the situation would have been much easier for architect Daniel Renard, had he known that a century later, everyone would appreciate that his work was the most beautiful building of Constanta.
The Casino was the place where the high society went to balls, gambling or plays
At the beginning of the last century, balls were the main means of entertainment for inhabitants and tourists. At the Casino, people used to dance, socialize, meet or plan getting married, people from different social categories got to know each other. Theatre plays were also performed there. There was a large hall for theatre plays, despite the poor acoustics everyone was complaining about. In support of Daniel Renard came Victor Ştefănescu, an important architect whose father founded the Bucharest Opera and knew exactly what to do. However, acoustics could not be bettered, because it was, however, a casino.
The Casino used to have multiple functions and at various times
It could also be a meeting place for inhabitants and tourists, and a place for shows, balls or conferences, but at the same time it kept its function as a casino, having its halls intended for gambling.
Over the years, in the Constanta Casino, there were elite restaurants, confectioneries and bars. An example of this is given in Cezar Petrescu’s novel “Darkness”, which starts with a table that was taken at the Constanta Casino, where the waiters came from the Athénée Palace. It was a place where the reputable names of the age flaunted themselves, clothes and jewels were displayed, a space of mundanity as well as bohemian life. These two coordinates should the Casino follow again and it would perform its functions on behalf of which it was designed and raised on the seashore.
Currently, the Casino is in advanced deterioration state. It is going to be rehabilitated and the authorities will decide what functions the edifice will have, and whether some of them are to be profitable.