511. valentín alsina

23 Sep 2013

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Valentín Alsina

Born in 1802—a few years before independence from Spain—Valentín Alsina studied law & obtained his first government post under the presidency of Bernardino Rivadavia. Short-lived, politics became much more complicated after Rosas took charge in 1829. Although Alsina formed part of the opposition to Rosas, he was protected by his father-in-law, Manuel Vicente Maza… an early Rosas supporter who switched sides & was eventually assassinated by Rosas’ troops.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Valentín Alsina

Arrested & imprisioned, Alsina managed to escape to Uruguay in 1837 where he continued to oppose Rosas in the newspapers, along with other exiles like his neighbor in Recoleta Cemetery, Florencio Varela. After the defeat of Rosas in 1852, Alsina returned to Buenos Aires to oppose Urquiza as well. He was elected Governor of Buenos Aires but served for only a brief period due to another uprising.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Valentín Alsina

The following year Alsina presided over the committee which adopted the first provincial constitution, separating Buenos Aires from the rest of Urquiza’s Confederación Argentina. During this period, he oversaw the opening of the first rail line in Argentina & brought back the remains of his former boss, President Rivadavia, for burial in Recoleta Cemetery.

After winning the 1859 Battle of Cepeda, Urquiza forced Buenos Aires to join the confederacy & Alsina had to step down. But he continued in government & occupied the top spot in the national Senate where Valentín sweared in his son, Adolfo Alsina, as Vice-President under Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. He passed away soon after in 1869. Of his numerous contributions to Argentina, Alsina is probably best known for being the first director of the provincial institution which would later become the National Library as well as the author of the nation’s first penal code.

Alsina’s statue by Belgian sculptor Jacques de Braekeleer shines after a thorough cleaning in 2011:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Valentín Alsina

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Valentín Alsina

Update (19 Aug 2014): The Biblioteca Digital Trapalanda (part of the Biblioteca Nacional) recently made the following image from 1876 by photographer Christiano Junior available. Wish those trees were still around!

Valentín Alsina, Christiano Junior, Biblioteca Digital Trapalanda

510. j. rodolfo bernasconi y familia

09 Sep 2013

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, J. Rodolfo Bernasconi

For such a wealthy businessman, little information is available online about Juan Rodolfo Bernasconi. Born in Buenos Aires in 1869, he studied in Switzerland, married María Luisa Pini Leonardi & had four children. Most of his money came from agriculture, especially the successful company Bycla which produced blends of cooking oil:

ByCla aceite combestible, J. Rodolfo Bernasconi

As far as my research could ascertain, Bernasconi was not related to Félix Bernasconi of the famous institute founded in Parque Patricios. Then again, there were lots of Bernasconis in Argentina at the time… a very common last name. Most surprising is the interior decoration. Very well-maintained, someone should research the family coat-of-arms:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, J. Rodolfo Bernasconi

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, J. Rodolfo Bernasconi

509. otto krause

26 Aug 2013

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Otto Krause

Born in 1856, Otto Krause grew up in Chivilcoy, a town about two hours west of Buenos Aires. Both his parents arrived from Prussia & worked hard to make the small town grow. Sarmiento spoke at the opening of a local church in 1857 & impressed Krause’s father so much that newborn twins were christened with the names Domingo & Faustino!

Education—a central theme in the life of Krause—took him to Buenos Aires where he graduated from the School of Exact Sciences. Afterwards he became one of Argentina’s first civil engineers with a dissertation about railroad traction. It got him noticed & was soon hired to work on several sections of Argentina’s rapidly expanding rail network. Krause even designed the railway workshops in Tolosa for the Ferrocarril del Sud… not as grand as those in Remedios de Escalada but useful until the 1940s when engineers designed a new, modern steam engine there.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Otto Krause, stained glass

After several years of teaching at the University of Buenos Aires, Krause established a high school focused on training students for industrial careers. He saw the rapid development of German technical know-how as a model for Argentina’s future. Krause also began reformulating curriculums all over the nation, as well as traveling to Europe to investigate the newest tech schools. In 1909 he was named director of the Escuela Industrial de la Nación & inaugurated the new building in Buenos Aires:

Escuela Industrial de la Nación Otto Krause

Escuela Industrial de la Nación Otto Krause

Krause continued to work in various government capacities until his death in 1920. The school he helped found adopted his name in 1925, & many important figures have since studied there such as architect Alejandro Bustillo. The school even had Luis Perlotti as Art Director for several years in the 1940s.

508. juan arroqui y familia

12 Aug 2013

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Juan Arroqui, Alfredo Palacios

Born in 1880—just as Argentina settled decades of internal conflict & millions of immigrants began to arrive—Alfredo Palacios would be remembered as the first Socialist Party member elected to any congress in Latin America. Palacios’ early life was not easy, especially after his Uruguayan father decided to recognize legally all 19 of his children… Alfredo being one of the illegitimate ones. This meant little money in the household, but Palacios worked hard to get a good education.

Noticed for his oratory skills even as a teenager, Palacios eventually graduated with a law degree. Committed to helping the underdog, his doctoral thesis titled “La Misería en la República Argentina” went hand-in-hand with a sign posted at his residence/office: “Lawyer. Free services for the poor.”

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Juan Arroqui, Alfredo Palacios

Palacios experienced a memorable first term in Congress when he uncovered & exposed money laundering in—of all things—the construction of the national Congress building itself. Briefly kicked out of the Socialist Party for wanting to settle a disagreement with a duel, he continued to be active in various universities & traveled extensively throughout South America. Palacios opposed US intervention in Latin American affairs during the 1920’s as much as he opposed the 1930 military coup in Argentina.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Juan Arroqui, Alfredo Palacios

Other causes dear to Palacios were repatriation of the Falkland Islands, better health care & living conditions in northern Argentina & in 1938 he tried to pass a bill for female suffrage. He remained at odds with Perón & had brief conflict with every administration afterwards. Palacios always remained true to socialist principles, even giving half his income to the Socialist Party.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Alfredo Palacios plaque

In 1965 while serving as a diputado in Congress, Palacios passed away with practically no money to his name. He never married & had no children, so I’ve been unable to determine how or why he was buried in the Arroqui mausoleum. Perhaps a brother or sister married into the Arroqui family? If anyone has additional information, please post a comment below.

507. busts

29 Jul 2013

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, José M. Pirán

Lots of well-known people have busts placed on the exterior of the mausoleum… public reminders of important public figures. Good examples are physician/paleontologist Francisco Javier Muñiz, architect & founder of La Plata Pedro Benoit, Irish chaplain Anthony Fahy, teacher Emma Nicolay de Caprile, & the queen of grumpy Tiburcia del Carril.

Others are more private, placed inside the mausoleum, meant for primarily for family members. All the more reason to take a peek inside!

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, bust

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, bust

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, bust, Méndez de Andes

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, bust

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, bust

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, bust

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, bust

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, bust

506. ernesto tornquist

15 Jul 2013

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Tornquist

Ernesto Tornquist, born in 1842 in Buenos Aires, became one of Argentina’s most successful entrepreneurs. His father, born in Baltimore of German immigrants, represented the city of Bremen in Uruguay. Ernesto’s mother, a porteña, passed away in the yellow fever epidemic of 1871.

The following year Tornquist married his niece & they had a numerous family of 14 children. His brother-in-law first introduced Ernesto to management, & he eventually acquired enough shares & confidence to inherit the company. It provided the capital necessary to open a sugar refinery in Rosario, the Bieckert brewery, a ceramic manufacturing plant, metalworking facility… even a margarine factory. Diversity seemed to be Tornquist’s strong point, & his fortune grew accordingly.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Ernesto Tornquist

A close friendship with both Julio Argentino Roca & Carlos Pellegrini likely helped Tornquist influence political decisions… or at least know what would happen before anyone else. Some historians have hinted that he may have even inspired Roca to take on the Conquista del Desierto in order to acquire land. What is certain is that after the removal of indigenous tribes, Tornquist bought thousands of hectares of confiscated land & established colonies for German immigrants. This large area just north of Bahía Blanca still bears his name.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Ernesto Tornquist

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Ernesto Tornquist, lion

Tornquist built several visible reminders of his wealth in Buenos Aires, most notably the Plaza Hotel—today the Marriott—on Plaza San Martín. In the heart of the banking district, Alejandro Bustillo designed the Banco Tornquist in 1928. As of 2000, Banco Tornquist had been absorbed by Banco Santander Río & the building has remained closed to the public since then. Plans to house the yearly interior design fair (Casa FOA) there in 2013 will provide a unique opportunity to view the bank’s interior. Ornamental figures above the entrance were sculpted by Troiano Troiani.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, La City, Banco Tornquist

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, La City, Banco Tornquist

Tornquist passed away in 1908 in Buenos Aires. His remains—along with those of his wife—were transferred in 1992 to the city which bears his name, leaving only a dusty reminder in Recoleta Cemetery of one of Argentina’s biggest names in business.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Tornquist