Mark Treon – First Trip To Romania

My first journey to Romania started in April 1991, We left on a Thursday evening from JFK in New York flying Tarom airlines landing in Bucharest Friday morning. When we landed the airport was total confusion. People were everywhere with taxi drivers trying to grab our bags as they were passed up through a hole in the floor. We brought three of my US Army duffle bags one full of powdered formula and baby diapers and the other two with our clothes. We were told by our Romanian Attorney to plan on staying ten days…..well seven weeks later we were still in Romania. We were one of the lucky ones. We found Simona on day four of our trip and spent the rest of the time dealing with the Romanian Court system and the US Embassy neither of them went very smoothly.

We had to leave Simona with a very nice Romanian couple we had met during our stay in mid June. We figured it might be easier to get Simona who we now called Desiree Simona to the US by working the system from the US and we had our older son, Terri’s, graduating from high school. The day we drove home from JFK I called the US Embassy in Bucharest and Virginia Young, who was the US Counselient picked up the phone and said Desiree Simona had her Visa approved and we could come and pick it up at the US Embassy. I cried as I told her we are back in the states. The next morning I was off to JFK to fly back and pick up Desiree Simona and bring her to her new home in Vermont, USA. I was in Romania less than 24 hours and back on a plane to JFK, New York. What a feeling it was to get little Desiree Simona home in her new bedroom and for me to finally get a good needed sleep in my own bed after eight weeks from home.

‘The Chosen Children From Romania’

In 1992 I founded and nonprofit organization, The Chosen Children from Romania. We started out as a parent support group for parents with adopted children from Romania. The following year a group of four of us were heading back to Romania with approximately a ton of baby formula and baby clothing. I am a Rotarian and past president of our Barre, Vermont club. We were able to apply and be awarded a matching grant in 1994 for $25,000.00. This helped us supply a few orphanages with new wooden cribs, wooden bunk beds, washers, dryers and plenty of clothing and toys for the children. We actually started a student exchange with a local high school in Buzău “B.P.Hasdeu” and did that for several years bringing Romanian students to the US and American students to Romania. That was probably a highlight of our successes. We continued this up to around 2002.

In 2002 I took Desiree over to Romania for her first trip to her birth country. She had been asking me a lot of questions about Romania and her birth family. We headed over in July of 2002 and went to the village she was born and found her birth family. That was extremely interesting and very rewarding day for Desiree. The entire village came out to great her and she was able to meet all 12 of her brothers and sisters, her aunts and uncles and her grandparents from both sides of her family. It was quite a day.

In 2013 my father passed away. Before he died he told me, “throughout life you think you have plenty of time to do what you want to do, all of a sudden you are out of time. If you want to do something do not put it off, do your homework and make a good decision and then do it”.. That night I decided to return to Romania and buy a house. This is something I had thought about for several years. Over all of my 32 trips to Romania I really fell in love with Romania. I love the food, the Tucia, the countryside and most important the people. So the fall of 2013 I returned to Romania and traveled to Transylvania.

Inspired By Prince Charles

After doing some research I planned on looking in the area of Southeastern Transylvania in the Sighişoara Târnava Mare area. I knew Prince Charles had just purchased a few homes in this area. I reached out to Caroline Fernolend from the Mihai Eminescu Trust. I actually called her and made an appointment to meet at her home in Viscri. I told her I was looking to buy a home in the area and could she recommend a village. She provided me with a few villages to look at and so I started my adventure. After a few days I ended up in Richiş. A small Saxon Village located in a beautiful valley not too far from Mediaş and Sibiu. Richiş has an old Saxon church from the 12th century with a small creek running through the center of the village. Under the Communist the area was known for its production of good white wine. Unfortunately since 1989 all of the grape vines have died off do to lack of attention. I looked at several homes in the village and was fortunate to find Casa 123 which was owned by a German woman living in Germany. Her husband had recently passed away and she wanted to sell her home.

After roughly one year I was finally able to close on the purchase of the house. She had some issues with some of the paperwork and it took awhile to get it all straightened out. It was not until I met my neighbor, Mr Jiga, who owned Casa 122, that I got the idea of opening a country Inn. These two houses where side by side with a common wall. I said to myself this was perfect. I was actually looking for a way I could justify coming over more often to Romania.

What better way than to start a small country Inn. I gave Mr. Jiga an offer on his home, Casa 122, and we made a deal. This transaction went much smoother since Mr. Jiga’s paperwork was in good order. My plan was to open the Inn, Inn at Richiş, by the fall of 2018 if not sooner. I would start with phase 1 which would be to renovate casa 122 and get it up and running smoothly. Once casa 122 was up and operational I would begin phase 2, the renovation of casa 123. Keeping the main house of casa 123 private for the Treon family and adding an additional 5-6 rooms by renovating the large barn. This would bring the total number of rooms with both casa’s between 12-14 bedrooms with private ensuites. This will make a great vacation home for my children to come an enjoy. All three of my children have been to Romanian several times.

We are going to create between 10-12 jobs in the village of Richiş which the village really needs. All food will be prepared and cooked in the old traditional Saxon, Romanian and Hungarian ways by local women from the village. My plan is to create a small trust from some of the profits of the Inn to donate back to the village for maintenance and upkeep of the village.

“Keeping the best of the ancient and the best of the modern under one roof”.

Renovation will be done according to traditional building techniques and environmental protection. We will preserve and renovate the Saxon architecture by maintaining the facades with natural materials roofs with ceramic tiles, original wooden windows and doors, so we want our guests to feel, as much as possible, the rural authenticity of the past century, providing current requirements of comfort, everything in a rural environment, hoping we will impress all our guests.

Architectural Plans For Renovations

“Dear visitor of this site, if you are tired of the uproar of the city and if you need to spend a few days in a quiet and fascinating place, then be sure that Richiş is the perfect place. A wonderful place where you’ll discover interesting historical facts and funny stories told by elders from Richiș.

Here you always find good traditional tasting food and wine that you will remember all of your life. You can visit the fortified church and then you can go hiking and biking to villages nearby Richiş and many other surprises prepared for you. I can assure you that you will leave the Comune of Biertan fully charged with positive energy.”

Mihai Mircea Dragomir

A Discussion With Mark Treon – Video