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Category: Business

488. brenna

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Brenna

One year before Recoleta Cemetery opened, a flour mill & its corresponding shop for baked goods began operation in 1821 at the intersection of Rivadavia & Rodríguez Peña. Almost four decades later, it became known as the Confitería del Molino. The business was acquired in 1886 by Gaetano Brenna who had a clear vision of making the best sweets in Buenos Aires.

Part of Brenna’s business plan included expanding his facilities. Purchasing two buildings & a warehouse at the intersection of Callao & Rivadavia, Brenna hired immigrant Italian architect Francisco Gianotti to join the three structures & build up, up, up. Gianotti wasted no time during the six years he had been in Argentina, already having built several apartment buildings & just completing the Galería Güemes the previous year. He was definitely one of the star architects of the moment. Brenna made Gianotti promise not to interrupt normal, day-to-day business of the confitería & the results were spectacular.

Buenos Aires, Confitería del Molino, Francisco Gianotti

Given its location at one of the most important intersections in the city center & adjacent to Congress, the Confitería del Molino quickly became the success Brenna had envisioned 20 years earlier. Politicians, tango celebrities like Tita Merello, foreign dignitaries, literally everyone hung out there.

Unfortunately, business began to decline in the 1950’s & each coming decade brought new challenges for the Brenna family. Shortly after filming a scene for the Alan Parker version of “Evita” plus a video for the Madonna release “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore,” the Confitería del Molino closed its doors forever in January 1997. The building is currently disintegrating, but plans are frequently proposed to save the structure… hopefully before it collapses.

Buenos Aires, Confitería del Molino, Francisco Gianotti, Art Nouveau

Art lovers should take a peek inside the tomb for one of the finest mosaics in the cemetery:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Brenna

Like Art Nouveau? Learn about the architects of the era, their individual styles & what makes Art Nouveau in Buenos Aires so unique with a 33-page guide from our sister site, Endless Mile.

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465. manuel d’huicque y familia

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Manuel d'Huicque

The first Manuel d’Huicque came from France & imported coffee from Brazil. Although several establishments were located in Buenos Aires, perhaps the most famous was Café La Brasileña located along the old Rambla of Mar del Plata. Apparently his son (“h”=hijo) had a fondness for sportscars!

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460. alfred gath + 461. lorenzo chaves

Buenos Aires, Gath & Chaves, 1900's

Mega photo post covering two different tombs. It’s almost surprising that Englishman Alfred Gath & Argentine Lorenzo Chaves were not buried in the same mausoleum since together they ran one of the most successful businesses in Argentina.

Gath & Chaves joined forces in 1883 to open up their own men’s wear store. After adding women’s clothes as well home goods, their commercial clout grew enormously. So much so that they built a fantastic main branch on the corner of Perón & Florida in Buenos Aires. With one of the finest interiors in the city, customers could take a break from shopping on the rooftop terrace for a spot of tea. They even added an annex on Avenida de Mayo:

Buenos Aires, Gath & Chaves, 1900's

Buenos Aires, Gath & Chaves, 1900's

Buenos Aires, Gath & Chaves, 1900's

In 1922, the company was acquired by Harrod’s, & branches opened in other cities plus a locale in Santiago de Chile. Unfortunately tough economic times during the late 20th century forced Gath & Chaves to close in 1974. The main branch is now occupied by Banco Meridian, minus the gorgeous interior. It’s gone forever, but the awning & dome remain. The annex also adds a bit of glamour to the beginning of Avenida de Mayo:

Buenos Aires, Gath & Chaves, 2000's

Buenos Aires, Gath & Chaves, 2000's

Buenos Aires, Gath & Chaves, 2010's

Alfred Gath eventually found his way to Recoleta Cemetery in this splendid Neoclassical-Art Deco mausoleum. Urban legend claims that he had a buzzer installed inside his casket… just in case he woke up & found himself trapped. There is zero documentation to support such a strange tale, & apparently Gath’s remains have been transferred to Paris. At least the González y Kordich family can enjoy this beautiful structure covered with allegory. Find representations of Silence & Resurrection:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Gath/González y Kordich

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Gath/González y Kordich

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Gath/González y Kordich

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Gath/González y Kordich

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Gath/González y Kordich

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Gath/González y Kordich

The tomb for Lorenzo Chaves isn’t nearly as grand, but its location could not be better… one of the first visible after crossing through the entrance gate. He passed away in 1928, & five years later store staff dedicated a plaque to their co-founder on the company’s 50th anniversary. The interior holds a surprise: an ethereal statue of what appears to be Mary holding the baby Jesus, floating on a cloud. Just beneath, a simple engraving states that “his life was: energy, work & generosity.”

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Lorenzo Chaves

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Lorenzo Chaves

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Lorenzo Chaves

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456. familia de lacroze

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Lacroze/Fortabat

Born in Buenos Aires in 1838, Federico Lacroze quit his city job to make a small fortune in the town of Chivilcoy. Independently wealthy & known for his business savvy, the city government granted him a concession in 1870 to offer trolley service in Buenos Aires… horse-drawn at the time. Working with his brother, Julio—one of 10 siblings—their first line ran through downtown BA & connected Plaza de Mayo with Plaza Miserere (Once). In 1891, only three years before Lacroze passed away, they made the switch to electric trolleys.

Federico’s son, Teófilo, expanded the family business to include train lines & the B Line of the Buenos Aires subway system. A plaque shows visitors a bit of Federico’s history:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Lacroze/Fortabat

The mausoleum is striking… a Neoclassical temple with sculptures of eternal flames & representations of caskets on top:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Lacroze/Fortabat

Julio Lacroze was the grandfather of Amalia Lacroze de Fortabat, the richest woman in Argentina with a fortune of almost U$S 2 billion. Although her family was already wealthy, marriage to concrete magnate Alfredo Fortabat in 1947 placed her at the top. A bit scandalous for the time, “Amalita” had to get divorced in Uruguay before marrying Fortabat… but it was true love. He passed away in 1976 & she inherited the company plus all the work involved in running it.

Painted by Andy Warhol & amassing a huge art collection, she donated many works to a new museum recently opened in Puerto Madero. In fact, she was known for her charity… donating millions to those in need & stimulating the arts in Argentina. In February 2012, Amalia died of natural causes in Buenos Aires & was laid to rest in the family tomb, just above Alfredo.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Lacroze/Fortabat

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Lacroze/Fortabat

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Lacroze/Fortabat

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452. ángel de estrada

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Ángel de Estrada

Born in Buenos Aires in 1840, the first Ángel de Estrada came from a long line of wealthy landowners & helped found the Sociedad Rural Argentina at the age of 26. His family connections plus large amounts of cash helped Ángel become a successful businessman. In 1869, he established a publishing house, the Editorial Estrada, which still exists today as part of the Macmillan Group. Many of his later ventures would have to do with publishing, including the first paper factory in Argentina & the production of elements for printing presses. Eventually, De Estrada would provide many of the educational materials needed for the rapidly growing nation. Ángel de Estrada passed away in 1918.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Ángel de Estrada

Perhaps his son, also named Ángel de Estrada, is better known because of the body of work he left behind. De Estrada (hijo) was born in 1872 in Buenos Aires & became a recognized novelist & poet… very fitting given his father’s legacy. He often traveled to Europe & was inspired by classic Greek & Roman literature as well as works of the Renaissance. In 1923, a boat accident just off the shore of Rio de Janeiro ended his career prematurely. The son’s upper-class connections would be remembered by a plaque from the Liga Patriótica Argentina:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Ángel de Estrada

One of the tallest mausoleums in Recoleta Cemetery, its placement among the long rows of the southeast section makes it difficult to appreciate & to photograph:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Ángel de Estrada

Two separate entrances, one to the altar & another to the crypt below, are gated & prevent visitors from appreciating the interiors:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Ángel de Estrada

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Ángel de Estrada

But keen observers will note that the decoration was inspired by the cemetery’s entrance gate… almost a carbon copy:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Ángel de Estrada

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Ángel de Estrada

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Ángel de Estrada

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444. eugenio cardini

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Eugenio Cardini, Julián García Núñez

Eugenio Cardini was an immigrant from Piemonte, Italy who arrived in Buenos Aires around 1860. He eventually founded a factory which produced iron bedframes. Other types of furniture were made as well, & his market was mainly other immigrants… those with less resources, not the upper class. In 1898, some 2,000 bedframes per month were produced! The source for this info is the online Diccionario Biográfico Italo-Argentino compiled by the Asociación Dante Alighieri in Buenos Aires.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Eugenio Cardini, Julián García Núñez

The plaque mentions the “establishment” founded by Cardini & confirms his date of death as 08 Jan 1910:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Eugenio Cardini, Julián García Núñez

Just as interesting, Art Nouveau architect Julián García Núñez designed this vault. While not as elaborate as some of his apartment buildings, it represents one of the few constructions in Recoleta Cemetery with elements of modernisme… the Catalán take on Art Nouveau. García Núñez also built the family’s vacation home in Mar del Plata, unfortunately demolished today. Cardini faces boxer Luis Ángel Firpo & unfortunately is often overlooked.

Update (10 Dec 2012): The great-granddaughter of Cardini discovered this post & provided a bit more info (see comments below). Cardini liked photography so much that he purchased a Lumière camera during a trip to France. A brief clip of Plaza de Mayo—that’s the Cabildo in the background—from 1902 is short but very sweet. Thanks, Louise!!

Like Art Nouveau? Learn about the architects of the era, their individual styles & what makes Art Nouveau in Buenos Aires so unique with a 33-page guide from our sister site, Endless Mile.

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