As a descendant of Nicolás Rodríguez Peña, Petronila inherited four centrally located city blocks in Buenos Aires. On her death in 1882, she willed the entire lot to the city government with very specific instructions. A church should be built as well as an attached Catholic school & a separate, 3-story school for 700 girls complete with a museum, library & other rooms decided to teaching art, music & science.
The wishes of Petronila were fulfilled & all the requested buildings constructed. The enormous girls’ school was occupied briefly by the Supreme Court until becoming the Ministry of Education in 1903. Not far from the busy intersection of Avenidas Córdoba & Callao, the Ministry became popularly known as the Palacio Pizzurno for 3 brothers who improved education in Argentina:
Petronila’s school eventually found a home in the distant neighborhood of Parque Chas in 1934 where it continues to function today:
One of the few structures in Recoleta Cemetery shaped like a pyramid & often attributed to Masonic origins, the story of the José Pérez Mendoza is much more interesting than any supposed secret society membership.
Egyptian motifs are likely due to the style of the era—late Art Deco—since Mendoza passed away in 1937. One of the plaques clarifies his contribution to porteño society: founder of the Sarmiento Animal Protection Society:
Named after President Sarmiento who supported the first animal rights laws in Argentina, the 1902 society began to care for abandoned & overworked animals. Located on the 600 block of Santiago del Estero, the building is surprisingly still standing… and still operating. The ground floor has been completely altered & now houses a mini-market/garage while the upper floor seems to house the office portion:
They offer basic services such as education, adoption, spaying, neutering & often collaborate with the School of Veterinary Sciences in the neighborhood of Agronomía.
In post #045, the original owners of the spectacular Art Deco/Neo-Byzantine vault pictured below had not been confirmed. Removed long ago, their family name has been cited differently in every book about the cemetery, with DeFerrari or Del Ferrari being the most common:
Thanks to Alejandro Machado & his obsession with Buenos Aires architecture, the family name has been verified as Defferari. Machado found the following photos in a January 1925 edition of a trade magazine titled “El Arquitecto.” Zooming in, the family name is fuzzy but certainly legible. There were a couple of interior photos published as well:
Even more exciting is the discovery of the identity of the architect… another bit of lost architectural heritage recovered by Machado. Alejandro Virasoro became the most important Art Deco architect in Buenos Aires with dozens of masterpieces in the city & founded a firm which still exists today. None of Virasoro’s buildings have the same Neo-Byzantine style of his vault in Recoleta Cemetery, but they are equally impressive… like this telescopic dome on Diagonal Norte: