Efforts to create a Romanian classroom in the Cathedral of Learning began in 1928 when a group of Romanian students at the University of Pittsburgh formed a committee that appealed to the Romanian government to support building the room. The following year, Pitt student Ionel Ionescu presented the room idea to Queen Marie and Romanian Prime Minister Iuliu Maniu while Western Pennsylvania’s Romanian community organized a formal room committee to begin fundraising efforts. At the time, there were about 2,700 Romanian immigrants in Allegheny County of diverse religious affiliations including Orthodox, Byzantine, Baptist, and Jewish.
In 1930, architects George Cantacuzino and N. Ghică-Budeşti began to collaborate on the room’s design in Bucharest. The Great Depression slowed progress on the room’s development, but the early success of the financial campaign ensured that it would be built. In 1935 new Romanian students pushed for the formation of a new committee led by Pompiliu Popescu to complete fundraising and construction of the room. Meanwhile, Ruth Crawford Mitchell visited Bucharest to create a committee there and work with Ghică-Budeşti to complete the room’s design, but reports from the committee in Romania ceased with the onset of World War II. As a result, the committee sought to acquire donations from the Romanian Pavilion at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York and the Romanian Parliament approved the idea in November 1940. University architect Albert Klimcheck worked to incorporate the gifts into Ghică-Budeşti’s designs.
The Romanian Room was dedicated on May 16, 1943. Clergy from the Eastern Orthodox Rite and Byzantine Greek Catholic Rite participated in the ceremony, as did Metropolitan Opera singer Madame Stella Roman. The Romanian Room is modeled after a Romanian Orthodox Monastery.
For more information on the history of the room and committee, please visit: Guide to the Romanian Nationality Room Committee Collection, 1927-1953, UA.40.18 | Documenting Pitt
By becoming a member you will be the first to know what is happening at the Romanian Nationality Room, be invited to the annual members meeting, have access to the annual budget, and have the opportunity to help the committee plan events by volunteering and suggesting new programs.