The facade of the De Ridder mansion on Alvear Avenue in Buenos Aires during its expansion, around 1927

Post available in: English

In Buenos Aires’ golden age, Alvear Avenue was Frenchified. It was based on the aesthetics of large residences preserved along with its short six blocks that, with few exceptions, recreated in the Beaux-Arts style of the Ancien Régime.

The culmination of its axis is the great dome of the old residence Ortiz Basualdo, the current French Embassy, to which the Plaza Carlos Pellegrini with its monument by Jules-Félix Coutan serves as a setting, that can be considered as the apotheosis of a paradigm that defined Buenos Aires as ‘the Paris of South America’.

                                         Avenida Alvear 1860’s

However, this assertion is not entirely accurate. The architectural eclecticism that prevailed in the avenue at the beginning of the 20th century reveals a deep Americanism resulting from the different cultural tastes of the ruling elites and the diverse migratory currents that reached Argentina.

Avenida Alvear’s Origins

In an attempt to decipher the progressive opening of Avenida Alvear, it can be said that by 1865, 90% of the street was built on, stretching from Avenida del Libertador – then known as Camino de Palermo – to Presidente Avenue Quintana – in those days the Long Street of the Recoleta.

In the plan of the City and Municipality, made by Pedro P. Uzal in 1879, its layout appears for the first time under the name of Progreso and reaches Rodriguez Peña Street, then called Guarantees. In another plan delineated by J. B. A. Bianchi in 1882, it is seen with its current layout and named Bella Vista. But in, the Municipal Plan of the same year already appears under the name of Alvear Avenue that is estimated was formalized by ordinance of January 31, 1883.

The House of Obligado Pastor

At the intersection with Parera Street, number 1531, a picturesque residence emulated a small castle, inaugurated in 1886, inscribed on the vane that crowned its tallest tower. Its design and construction were entrusted to the Italian Lombard architect Pablo Besana by Pastor Servando Obligado (1841-1924), lawyer, a military and famous writer, author -among other works- of Tradiciones Argentinas, married to María Teresa Ortega.

To this biography, it is relevant to add that his father, Pastor Justo Obligado Tejedor, was the first constitutional governor of the Province of Buenos Aires between 1853 and 1858.

Pablo Besana was born in Missaglia, Italy and trained at the prestigious Accademia di Brera in Milan, where he participated in the construction of Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. He came to Argentina in 1878 in the company of his brother Soave, with whom he would be a partner, building several works; in 1897, they won the tender for the construction of the Palace of the National Congress.

The Obligado residence was flanked by two other buildings designed and built by the same architect: on his left was the Kier house, built in the early 1980s, owned by Dr Sabiniano Kier, President of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Province of Buenos Aires. Between 1911 and 1913, the new residence of Juan José Blaquier and Mercedes de Elizalde would be built on this land. On the right were the four houses of Valeria Cueto de Cárdenas, the aunt carnal of Felicitas Guerrero de Álzaga, and her neighbours, probably built in the 1880s.

The project of Besana for the Obligado housing was the result of the fusion between historicism and romanticism prevailing in the second half of the nineteenth century; its façades recreated the facades of singular palazzi, as it was called in the book Gli Italiani Nella Repubblica Argentina of 1898, with neo-Gothic winged and crenellated towers inspired by the palaces of the Veneto, an eccentricity in a city in which fifty years ago the prominent architecture was the more conservative inherited from the colony.

It was a building of exempt volume, removed from the municipal line, estimated around 1903 when an entrance porch and an Orangerie or winter garden were added.

The De Ridder family, the new owners

Obligado lived on Avenida Alvear until he died in 1924, when the house was acquired by businessman Luis De Ridder (1881-1945). His daughter Maud De Ridder of Zemborain, married Carlos Alfredo Zemborain Dose, a neighbour of the same avenue and great-grandson of Pastor Servando Obligado. He possesses a prodigious memory and gently evokes several anecdotes of his times in the residence, where he lived for more than forty years, adding the memories of his brother Francisco and his nephew Santiago De Ridder.

Luis came from Antwerp, where he had solid professional training. He arrived in Argentina in 1907 to find the branch of a cereal company where he worked.

In 1917 he married Yvonne Perrier, Argentine, a descendant of Swiss and French parentage. The first of the couple’s nine children were born in the house on Charcas Street, and then they moved to a property located at 1950 O’Higgins Street in Belgrano, where three more children were born, including Maud.

Finally, in 1924, his parents acquired the house of Pastor Obligado on Avenida Alvear, which was modified between 1926 and 1927 when it was commissioned to redesign the garden by the engineer Benito Carrasco, author of the Rosedal de Palermo. Six years later, a second renovation was made that incorporated new premises in the earlier sector, necessary to accommodate four other children born there and a girl born in Mar del Plata.

The great enlargement

Between 1937 and 1939, after acquiring and demolishing the adjacent property belonging to the Cárdenas family and buying the land adjacent to Posadas Street, the house expanded and doubled its size.

At first, the couple had called the Parisian architect Robert Tiphaine, who advised demolishing the castle and making a new house in the French style.

But Yvonne, attached to the old property, was sorry to destroy it. Then, they turned to the Argentine architect César Adot Andía (1912 – 2000), who graduated in 1935 from the Faculty of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences of the University of Buenos, who saved the existing work and adapted its style to the new construction.

On Alvear Avenue, a new building was attached to the original and the artistic fence was modified. In Posadas Street, a garage and machine room with central air conditioning equipment (a novelty for those years), the rooms for the twenty-eight service employees and above a tennis court were built.

Finally, the old garage was demolished in the back garden, and a children’s playground and a large aviary were installed, first occupied by Australian parrots and then pheasants.

The interiors

Maud describes the interiors with precision: the house in the oldest sector of the main floor had a small French room surviving from Obligado’s time, the dining room, nicknamed the sad room due to its darkness, and the fumoir located at the base of the tower, decorated with a Delft ceramic fireplace and marble.

With the extension of the late 1930s, an illuminated hall with an important Murano glass chandelier, a room for storing trunks, a dining room, a toy room, a gym on the second floor and a large kitchen were added. On the ground floor, where a Danish chef worked, serving the eleven family members was appropriate.

His uncle, Gerard De Ridder, was an architect and was in charge of the new decoration of the dining room and the fireplace in the flamenco style with pieces brought from Belgium, inspired by the house of the painter Peter Paul Rubens in Antwerp, today Rubenshuis Museum, “so that my father felt in his homeland. ”

In 1955 his brother Francisco married Myriam Urrutia. They settled in the house on Avenida Alvear, where they lived in a new apartment building on the ground floor. Between 1956 and 1957, the family’s architect and friend, Amancio Williams, was commissioned to design this work. Williams had directed the construction of the Curutchet House designed by Le Corbusier in La Plata a few years ago and the house on the Arroyo in Mar del Plata. The modern furniture of this space was designed by architect Gerardo Clusellas in steel and leather.

Life in the home

Maud remembers that during her childhood, she was cared for by an Italian nanny; at age 10, she had a French governess and some of her brothers a Swiss Fräulein. As an adult, she attended classes at the Sacred Heart on Avenida Callao y Juncal, where the “Los Galgos” tower stands today. Children’s games happened in the garden, in the toy room or improvised in the house halls. With humour, she recalls when a brother accidentally locked her in one of the trunks in the ground floor room, and her mother had to call a locksmith to free her.

“Dances, parties and weddings were held in the salons, some of them memorable, such as the costume ball of 1951, in which two guests arrived mounted on an elephant and a camel”

To escape the oppressive Buenos Aires heat, they retired to a farm in Olivos called “La Cigale” on Maipú Avenue 3125. Around 1934, Luis acquired Villa General Zapiola, the Norman chalet of Daniel Ortiz Basualdo and Mercedes Zapiola, located in Alvear and Bolivar in Mar del Plata. They renamed it Villa Monica in dedication to one of their daughters.

They also had a home in Bariloche, Villa Astrid -named after another of their daughters for the architect Alberto Rodríguez Etcheto, author of numerous picturesque works of quality in the 30s and 40s. In this city, the sons of Luis and Yvonne, eximious sportsmen, used to practice alpine skiing. In fact, the brothers Marcelo and Luis came to compete in the Olympic Games of Saint Moritz in 1948 in the sleigh and alpine ski disciplines, respectively. In 1952, Francisco and Luis participated in the Olympic Games in Oslo, also in the alpine skiing discipline.

In turn, Marcelo De Ridder, an architect, founded the Institute of Modern Art, the forerunner of the National Museum of Modern Art, in 1949, at only 26 years old.

The demolition

The De Ridder family lived on the property until the early 1960s when it passed into the hands of a bank. It was demolished at the beginning of 1967 with the beautiful house belonging to the Blaquier family. The land was subdivided into two plots, one with a front on Alvear, which was built in the 1980s two buildings by the architect Mario Roberto Álvarez, and another on Posadas, on which the Hotel Caesar Park, now Sofitel, was built in 1992, work of the Peralta Ramos – SEPRA study.

Today, only two examples of this property style still exist in one of the most picturesque houses on Alvear Avenue. Some fragments of its ornamentation, such as the weather vane with the inscription P.O 1886 that crowned the tower, were preserved by the family, some pieces of stained glass were donated to the Museo Fernández Blanco, and other remains were acquired by private individuals. The rest was consigned to history.

  • Adolfo Brodaric is a researcher, and Pablo Chiesa has a degree in museology, and both are developing in the preservation of cultural heritage.

Source: La Nacion

Por: Lic. Pablo Chiesa y Adolfo Brodaric

Fuente: Archivo – Crédito: Archivo de Maud De Ridder de Zemborain

(Visited 1,338 times, 1 visits today)

About Gateway to South America

Established in 2006, Gateway to South America began as a single office in Buenos Aires. Since then, it has grown into a vibrant regional network, providing professional real estate marketing services to clients in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay. If you enjoy reading our news site, please share it on your social media!

Want an edge on investing in Latin America? Get our Investment News first: Join 39,400 subscribers without cost to our English, Spanish or Portuguese posts for the latest real estate news in LATAM useful for new and experienced investors. Please note, this subscription is for Investment News only, not properties for sale.

Post available in: English

Comments are disabled
Real Estate and Investment News from South America
Visit us on LinkedInVisit us on FacebookVisit us on TwitterVisit us on Pinterest