Skip to content

Category: Art + Architecture

498. asociación española de socorros mutuos

Buenos Aires, Balvanera, ex-Asociación Española de Socorros Mutuos

A favorite photo from the Colección Witcomb shows quite a different Recoleta Cemetery than the one that can be visited today. A few façades & domes remain to provide orientation, but sadly what was likely the largest mausoleum of that time no longer exists:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Colección Witcomb

Its identity remained uncertain until the following clip appeared in the excellent collection of images curated by Argentina Vintage:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Panteón de la Asociación Española de Socorros Mutuos

Just what I’d been looking for! A bit of research & a similar photo can be found in society magazine Caras y Caretas for Columbus Day, Día de la Raza, Día de la Hispanidad… a.k.a. October 12th.

As self-help organizations grew along with immigration, so did the need for burial space. The Asociación Española de Socorros Mutuos moved to Chacarita in 1896, eventually selling their group pantheon in Recoleta. Although demolished today, the new mausoleum by architect Alejandro Christophersen proved to be even more luxurious.

Chacarita Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Asociación Española de Socorros Mutuos, Alejandro Christophersen

2 Comments

496. familia david costaguta

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Costaguta

Local entrepreneur David Costaguta made most of his fortune from the manufacture & sale of textiles between Argentina & Europe at the end of the 19th century. Like most nouveau riche in Buenos Aires at that time, Costaguta decided to use his wealth to play around in the real estate market. But where to buy??

Plaza Lavalle underwent drastic change just as Costaguta looked to develop. The lot occupied today by the Teatro Colón originally held a train station… the terminus for the first railway built in the nation. In 1890 the station moved further west to Once, tracks were removed & the new opera house built in the same spot. Army barracks were likewise demolished to make room for a new Supreme Court (Tribunales).

Buenos Aires, Plaza Lavalle, Palacio Costaguta, Alfred Massüe, Art Nouveau

Costaguta bought the lot next to Tribunales & hired French architect Alfred Massüe to design a four-story building destined for both business & residential use. Work finished in 1907, & the Palacio Costaguta became another focal point for the plaza. Its tower & dome are still one of the most recognized pieces of Art Nouveau in Buenos Aires… even though a large portion of the building was demolished in 1988 & replaced with a rather horrific, glass office tower. Fortunately the Banco Fotográfico Digital run by the National Library contains a photo of Massüe’s masterpiece before modification:

Buenos Aires, Plaza Lavalle, Palacio Costaguta, Alfred Massüe, Art Nouveau

Costaguta’s tomb supposedly dates from 1907, but the architect responsible is unknown. The statue of a woman in mourning & two back relief panels (both unsigned!) are wonderful works of art. Hopefully more information will come to light in the future about the artists involved.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Costaguta

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.

Leave a Comment

486. familias de atucha y sarasa

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Familias de Atucha y Sarasa

Imposing but built on one of the more narrow paths of the cemetery, the mausoleum for the Familias de Francisco de Atucha y Azcuénaga y de Saturnino Sarasa is notoriously difficult to photograph. Even more difficult to see is the beautiful stained glass window inside… but it’s worth the effort:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Familias de Atucha y Sarasa, stained glass

At the beginning of the 20th century, Jorge Atucha purchased some 35,000 hectares from the Duggan family. The estate, located on the northern border of the Provincia de Buenos Aires, took the name “El Pelado“—perhaps Jorge was balding at the time!—& soon became a thriving cattle ranch. The family’s fortune grew when a branch of the Urquiza train line arrived to the estate in 1913 & carried its products to the capital. The station was named Sarasa after the last name of Jorge’s mother.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Familias de Atucha y Sarasa

As the estate grew, so did the number of people needed to work it. By 1925, a small town began to emerge in order to provide services to estate workers. Unfortunately “El Pelado” did not survive the political & economic crisis following the departure of Perón. In later years, the last military dictatorship stopped train service, & the town currently has a population of under 100 people.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Familias de Atucha y Sarasa

But the estate is still recognized as one of the oldest & best breeders of thoroughbred race horses in the nation. And in spite of fortunes that come & go, the Atucha family obviously did very well for themselves. Their tomb was designed by French architect René Sergent, although he never visited Buenos Aires. The beautifully crafted door & crowning angels would certainly draw much more attention if this tomb had been built on a main walkway.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Familias de Atucha y Sarasa, René Sergant signature

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Familias de Atucha y Sarasa

When the Atuchas spent time in Buenos Aires, their residence was located near Recoleta Cemetery on chic Avenida Alvear… just opposite the Palacio Ortiz Basualdo. Sold long ago, the house was divided into several apartments & contains one of the few faux, painted façades in Buenos Aires & is easily visible from busy Avenida 9 de Julio.

Buenos Aires, Retiro, Palacio Atucha

Buenos Aires, Retiro, Palacio Atucha

2 Comments