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

505. isaac fernández blanco

01 Jul 2013

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Isaac Fernández Blanco

Born in 1862, Isaac Fernández Blanco came from a family with an extensive history in the city of Corrientes. Isaac’s grandfather, Ángel, fought during independence wars against the Spanish but later moved to Buenos Aires, switching interests from politics to business.

In 1895, Isaac began to spend the family fortune on an impressive collection of Spanish colonial art. Even though an engineer by trade, his passion for period objects transformed the family house into a museum which eventually opened to the public. Isaac remained the museum’s honorary director until one year before his death in 1928.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Isaac Fernández Blanco

Family members continued to add to Isaac’s collection, & in 1947 the museum found a new location: the Palacio Noel. The Neocolonial residence built by architect Martín Noel serves as the perfect backdrop for the collection:

Buenos Aires, Retiro, Museo Isaac Fernández Blanco, Palacio Noel

Buenos Aires, Retiro, Museo Isaac Fernández Blanco, Palacio Noel

Buenos Aires, Retiro, Museo Isaac Fernández Blanco, Palacio Noel

Buenos Aires, Retiro, Museo Isaac Fernández Blanco, Palacio Noel

Also buried in the family mausoleum is Naír Mercedes Fernández Blanco de Gowland, who founded the Asociación Guías Argentinas in 1953… during the last years of her life. The AGA is the local equivalent of the Girl Scouts, & a plaque reminds passersby of her contribution to Argentina:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Naír F.B. de Gowland

504. buenos aires rediscovered

17 Jun 2013

Buenos Aires, Fototipias Peuser

In Oct 2012, I unexpectedly found a blog with an interesting proposal titled Buenos Aires Rediscovered. As a long-time fan of before & after or then & now comparative photos, Ken’s mission hit close to home:

My great grandfather Alexander Ballantyne OBE was an engineer back in the days when Sun never set on the British Empire. After having served his apprenticeship in Scotland he set off around the world working aboard steam ships. One of these was the “Roma” which was built in Glasgow by the ship builders A & J Inglis. In 1926 my great grandfather set off to Buenos Aires on the Roma to deliver it to its new owners—the Companía Argentina de Navigación (Nicolas Mihanovich) Ltd. They were the dominant force in shipping in Argentina and pretty much ran a monopoly. As well as delivering the ship he had to spend a bit of time in Buenos Aires to test the ship’s engines. When he left he was given a photograph album of Buenos Aires as a thank you present by the Companía Argentina de Navigación. It is this album which inspired this blog.

The fact that Ken put so much effort doing his own series of then & now pics using the 1920s album—in spite of never having visited Buenos Aires previously—inspired me to get in touch. I’ve tried to help by taking a few photos he couldn’t decipher… BA has changed a lot. I’m hoping we’ll be able to meet soon in London because I truly appreciate his work.

Buenos Aires, Fototipias Peuser, Mihanovich dedication, dedicatoria de Mihanovich.

Naturally, Recoleta Cemetery appeared in the book given to Ken’s great-grandfather. Below is the original photo, along with the newer version. Unfortunately that particular tree is no longer there, so Ken came up with a creative solution. Not bad at all. It’s difficult to be 100% accurate when the plaza in front of the cemetery has changed so often!

Buenos Aires, Fototipias Peuser, Recoleta Cemetery

Buenos Aires, Fototipias Peuser, Recoleta Cemetery

503. coronel juan de dios rawson

05 Jun 2013

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Coronel Juan de Dios Rawson

Coronel Juan de Dios Rawson, whose father came from Massachusetts, fought in several battles during Argentina’s early years of organization, including the Guerra de la Triple Alianza. He was also the half brother of Dr. Guillermo Rawson. But his great-grandson, Arturo Rawson, became President of Argentina… for only 72 hours.

Rawson had a long career in the military & rose to the rank of General after several decades of service. As commanding officer of the cavalry, he possessed the troops needed to stage a successful coup d’etat already planned by the GOU (Grupo de Oficiales Unidos) in 1943. This secret, informal collection of officers aimed to end the Década Infame where electoral fraud kept the same people in power year after year.

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, General Arturo Rawson

On 04 Jun 1943, Rawson marched 10,000 soldiers into Buenos Aires & took control of the country. While naming fellow officers to government positions & before he was sworn in as de facto President, the GOU realized they had made a mistake in asking Rawson for help. He supported the Allies in World War II while the GOU thought Argentina should remain neutral. Juan Domingo Perón, along with other GOU members, forced Rawson to resign & General Pedro Ramírez took his place.

For a brief period Rawson served as ambassador to Brazil. He also supported an attempted coup to overthrow Perón’s government in 1951. Rawson died of a heart attack the following year & did not live to see the eventual ousting of Perón in 1955.

502. juan berisso

20 May 2013

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Berisso

Between 1869 & 1871, Buenos Aires endured two disastrous epidemics: first, cholera, that left 9,000 dead & second, yellow fever, which claimed 14,000 victims. The city government put into practice new sanitation practices, including the removal of tanneries & slaughterhouses from residential areas. Business owners received big tax breaks if they agreed to relocate.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Berisso

Due to those incentives, Juan Bautista Berisso—an Genovese immigrant born in 1834—purchased 28 hectares in Ensenada, near the future location of La Plata. He established a successful tannery & in following years acquired a distillery, a vegetable oil factory, dock facilities & a number of cattle ranches.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Berisso

Berisso passed away in 1893 & is buried in an extraordinary family plot rarely seen by tourists because of its somewhat hidden location. Beautiful works by Italian sculptor Alessandro Biggi decorate the mausoleum, with Chronos (Father Time) on the left, a female angel with an anchor on the right & two lions guarding the entrance:

Buenos Aires, Recoleta Cemetery, Berisso

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Berisso

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Berisso

In La Plata, another branch of the Berisso family built the largest mausoleum in the cemetery, currently abandoned:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Berisso