Not far from Miercurea Ciuc, in the village of Sântimbru there is the ruin of family Henter’s curia. Covered with fibre cement roofing and partly demolished, the splendor of this curia could be found only in archival images and pilasters with Renaissance ornaments.
The history of this family is linked to the special past of Transylvania and to the military avanguard role of the Székler army in defending the borders of the Principality. The genealogy of the noble families is both, a record of important military and political functions of the nobles, and the great interest for the development of matrimonial alliances in order to enhance status and wealth. In the sixteenth century we already find about the royal judge of Three Chairs, Henter Benedek who marries in the Apor Borbála family. A member of this family, Apor István, will handle the treasurer pounds of Transylvania at the end of the seventeenth century.
Originary from the village of Sântionlunca, Henter family is mentioned in the village of Sântimbru by the end of the seventeenth century. In 1679, the noble family donates to the Catholic Church a Baroque altar behind which it is still preserved a painted commemorative text with the name of noble Henter Ferencz. According to the era custom, this got married to another noble from an old Székely family with important properties in the area, Mikes (of Zăbala) Erzsébet. Perhaps it was this matrimonial union‘s role announcing, not only to fortify the noble status but, above all, to increase the family wealth, that will be celebrated by building a first family residence in Sântimbru. From this construction there are preserved the Renaissance columns and the carved stone balusters, now integrated in the upper chamber’s battlement. On one of the stones that was found in the mixed masonry of bricks and stone there is the inscription A1713D (Anno Domini 1713). Though, there is possible that the nominated date could be the date of a further intervention. The current figure of the curia is the result of a last intervention, possibly made in the nineteenth century. The lack of current construction site on the present emplacement on the map of the First Austrian Military Mapping Survey (cca. 1775) could indicate that the original curia was in another place, probably closer to the hearth of the village.
Starting with the mid eighteenth century the family receives a social advance. Henter Adám, the grandson of the first Henter of Sântimbru is raised by Empress Maria Theresa to the rank of nobleman, together with his wife Nagy de Petk Bórbala. His eldest son, Baron Henter Antal, come to occupy the function of royal judge in the county Udvarhely Seat, being the one who could afford the financial costs of raising a new residence at Sântimbru, a place where to live with his wife, Countess Haller Anna and the their six children. The actual shape seems to be the result of a last intervention, possibly in the early nineteenth century - even in 1801, according to a graphic representation - when there was most wanted the creation of a new residence on a vaster field, located in the southern extremity of the village, as a sign of needs for privacy, tranquility, and natural environment.
Remarkable for this residence is the way of combining old elements taken from the first curia, pilasters with Renaissance ornaments and stone balusters and the high roof with a broken slope and the gable with volutes shaped typical of the Baroque period.
The noble assembly is announced by an imposing Baroque masonry gate. The two entrances are indicated by arcs in full centre, arches cut from the masonry plan ended in an upside curve and typical baroque passages.
The nobles Henter s’ house is build on the left side of the gate, on the eastern side of the parcel, east-west oriented mainly to provide a panorama of the mountains of Harghita and of the Roman Catholic Church to whose maintenance and restoration they contributed, as is customary at the time.
The rectangular planimetry is specific to the Szekler area but also bears baroque influences mainly found in more grand noble residences, with a central lounge and rooms arranged in succession: dining room, bedrooms, and a kitchen that connects to smaller additional rooms. Inside the curia, only a room keeps the brick dome cover with semi-cylindrical vaults of Baroque with perforations. The rooms are high, with storage niches cut directly in the masonry and holes with arched or rectangular tops. The access to the cellar there is made under the porch, as a preferred architectural plan of the Székler noble architecture related to the community history and traditions. From the impressive baroque cellar there are left behind two rooms that still preserve the original arched style, the rest being collapsed.
The period images provide information about the original appearance of the curia. The coverage, now improvised from cement slabs, initially looked like a transylvanian Baroque roof with a broken sloping and wooden shingles cover under the age trend. In the central part the porch is still preserved, and there is one of the finest remaining so far, supported by four rectangular stone columns whose faces are treated individually with floral Renaissance decorations showing acanthus flowers and pedals still preserved in situ. The frontispiece gets Baroque curvilinear forms with spirals. Right in the middle of it there is Henter’s family coat of arms presenting a crane with an arrow through his neck standing with one foot on the crown, bordered by colonnades through the intermediate profiled cornice. The same motif of the baroque frontispiece and of the opposed volutes could be seen on the entry portico to the courtyard of the Roman Catholic Church as a proof of the existence of a group of local craftsmen.
The exterior decoration was minimal, with easy profiling frames, chromatic treated differently, the elegance of the building being a consequence of a fine contrast between the light and dark nuances of the façade and completed with held shadows of the decoration columns.
Currently, the village structure is changed; new buildings got into the curia changing the initial constitution of the assembly.
After the inevitable nationalization curia became school and house of culture. In the last years, in order to rescue the curia and transform it into a cultural center, the community has started a fundraising.
arch. Alexandra Stoica