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Castillo Serralles
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
The Serrallés Castle
Location: Ponce, Puerto Rico
Coordinates: 18°1′07.00″N 66°37′09.00″W / 18.01861°N 66.61917°W / 18.01861; -66.61917Coordinates: 18°1′07.00″N 66°37′09.00″W / 18.01861°N 66.61917°W / 18.01861; -66.61917
Area: 2.5 acre
Built/Founded: 1926
Architect: de Castro, Pedro Adolfo
Architectural style(s): Spanish Colonial Revival
Governing body: Private
Added to NRHP: November 3, 1980
NRHP Reference#: 80004494[1]

Serrallés Castle (or Castillo Serrallés in Spanish) is an impressive mansion located in the city of Ponce, Puerto Rico overlooking the downtown area (Ponce Pueblo). It was built during the 1930s by Juan Eugenio Serrallés, son of businessman Juan Serralles, founder of Destileria Serralles. Nowadays, the castle is a museum with information about the sugar cane and rum industries and its impact in the economy of Puerto Rico. It opened as a public museum in February, 1991.[2] The structure sits on a 2.5-acre exceedingly manicured property.[3] The property was listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1980.

Contents

History

The late Rosita Serralles, who passed away in 2006, decided to sell the Serralles Castle to the city of Ponce rather than pass it down to any of her children. While the castle was valued at $17–$25 million dollars[4], she sold it for a mere $350,000 and included much of the furniture in the sale.[5] The city's initial intent was to turn it into a museum of Puerto Rican music.[6] The Museum of Puerto Rican Music was eventually establsihed elsewhere in the city.

Since it was emptied in 1956, the Serralles mansion has been maintained in very good condition and quite fortunately retains its architectural integrity and feeling. Alterations to the structure were of such minor proportions that to restore the original effect was accomplished with a minimum of effort and expense than would had otherwise been the case. [7]

The grounds, however, suffered significantly from lack of care. Weeds overran the entire area, small trees and bushes have been allowed to grow wild and as a result got to obscure the intention of the landscaping plan. Restoration of the landscaping required a great deal of cleaning, with an eye on the original design consideration. It also required a certain amount of research into the original scheme to bring the estate up to its original and immaculate appearance. [8]

In 1980, the property was still owned by Rosa Serralles Torruella and Felix J. Serralles Sanchez. [9]

Construction

The castle was built by local architect Pedro Adolfo de Castro y Besosa using the Spanish Colonial Revival style[10]. It was built on a hill overlooking the city of Ponce. It includes two huge terraces, an outside fountain, and a symmetrical garden. Its interior includes a luxurious hall, a spacious dining room, and an interior courtyard.[11]

European fashions and lifestyles were usually preferred in this part of the Island. Buildings and homes were constructed in European and Mediterranean styles all along its South and West coasts. The result of this intense cultural interest naturally provided work for artists, artisans, and architects whose creations tended to strengthen the image of the ethnic identity.[12]

Even though El Castillo de Serralles is not based on an indigeneous design, its architectural significance lies in the fact that is was designed to adapt well with Caribbean climatic conditions. Its workmanship, its interior decorations, its furniture (designed exclusively for this mansion) and even its floor plan, reflect cultural attitudes of the times.[13]

Other homes built in a similar grand manner no longer exists in such fine condition. Numerous other structures were built later to last, but none match the Serralles mansion in setting, landscaping, and attention to detail. The estate stands alone gracing El Vigia, visible from nearly every part of the city, as a constant reminder to all Ponceños of their heritage.[14]

Physical appearance

The Serralles mansion is located on the South side of El Vigia, the name given to one of the rolling foothills to the north of the center of Ponce. The building's "Y" shape plan and large central patio area take maximum esthetic advantage of the setting, commanding an impressive view of the city from its eastern, southern, and western elevations while maintaining privacy and elegance on its elevation. [15]

The house, built in 1926, has four floors. The ground floor is partly a basement and is dedicated to service quarters and garage. The second cotains the library, a central patio, a solarium, the living room, dining room, and kitchen. The third floors contains all the sleeping quarters. The fourth floor is really the roof/terrace, it has tiled floor and various covered areas. It used mostly for entertaining. [16]

Designed in a popular fashion of the 1920s representing Spanish Mediterranean influence, the building adapted well to the Caribbean climate and was congruent with Spanish influence existing throughout the island as well as in Ponce. All elevations feature round arches or modified coyned arches over ample window and door openings trimmed in wood. Many of these are richly adorned, with small stained glass panes and lead mullians, framed between neo-classsic half columns. Several openings also exhibit ornate iron work as additional decoration. The building was constructed entirely of concrete, including the roofs of the upper floors. Two towers that punctuate the east and west sides of the base of the "Y" plan have red roof tiles as do the dormers and all other hipped or shed roofs. The exterior of the buildings is finished in smooth stucco and simulates coursed stone masonry. [17]

The house has remained in the Serralles family since the time of its construction, and has suffered only minor alterations. The two most obvious alterations are, (1) The replacement of a set of four mullioned windows with aluminum jallousie windows in the west bedroom passageway; and the blocking-in of a service entrance at the rear of the house on the garden level. On the whole the house maintains its original architectual and decorative integrity. [18]

Access to the main entrance on the second level of the north elevation is by way of either of two semi-circular stairways which run from the covered carriage entrance on the ground level of the north elevation. At the top of the stairs, double french doors open into a large vestibule with a ceramic tile floor, representative of the floor coverings throughout the house. The view from this room reveals and open patio with a fountain, a series of planters which accent a solarium at the extreme end of the house and a gallery running the circumference of the patio. To the left of the vestibule, the living room is both visible and graciously accessible. This is the only room that features a parquet floor. It remains intact and has recently been repaired and refinished. All of the original furniture in the room has been removed by the owners throughout the years since 1956 when they closed the house and moved to other locations. [19]

Museum

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Renovation

When the city turned the estate into a museum, the entire basement was remodeled. The four original water storage tanks located the basement were removed. The basement also had workers' quarters and the car garage. All of these were also removed to male rooms for several offices, an auditorium, and a restaurant. The city also rejuvenated the surrounding landscape.[20] The backyard now consists of lush green grass, fountains, manicured shrubs, and lights. The first floor also houses an outdoor square that is covered by the roof over the second floor. The city uses this area to showcase the work of local artists and photographers.

Tourism

The museum now receives over 100,000 visitors a year. Visitors can tour the refurbished home, which has been furnished to appear as in 1930. There is also a temporary exhibit area for local artists. The attraction is now part of a large complex that includes the Cruceta El Vigía, and a Japanese Garden. There are plans to also add a butterfly garden [21].

In the movies

In this castle scenes from the Disney Channel Original Movie Princess Protection Program were filmed. [22]

Significance

The Serralles mansion was built as the exclusive residence of Don. Eugenio Serralles, a leader in the sugar cane industry during the early part of the 20th century. It repesents an example of Spanish Morrocan architecture, the style first introduced in Puerto Rico by the architect Pedro Adolfo de Castro. The three good examples of this style of architecture were: El Castillo de Valdes in Mayaguez, (destroyed several years ago); el Castillo de Mario Mercado in Guayanilla, (in ruins and vandalized beyond repairs), and El Castillo de Serralles. [23]

Local historical significance of the building is equal to, if not greater, than its architectural significance. Ponce's dependance on the sugar cane industry at the close of the nineteenth century, created an atmosphere of development from which evolved a series of intrinsic cultural characteristics and afforded great wealth to many families involved in the industry. The wealthy families generally chose Europe as the model for the direction that cultural endeavors would take.[24]

See also

References

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. http://www.nr.nps.gov/.  
  2. ^ Cumple Dos Décadas de Historia y Pasión. Periodico La Perla del Sur. (Ponce, Puerto Rico) August 26, 2009.Retrieved October 15, 2009.
  3. ^ Luis Muñoz Polanco, Engineer, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. Director, Office of Planning and Budget, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. July 7, 1980. In National Register of Historic Places Registration Form - Castillo de Serralles. United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service. (Washington, D.C.) Section 8, Page 3. Listing Reference Number 80004494. November 3, 1980.
  4. ^ The House that Rum Built. Adventure Guide to Puerto Rico Fourth Edition. By Kurt Pitzer and Tara Stevens. Edison, NJ: Hunter Publishing Inc. 2001. ISBN:1-58843-116-9. Page 229.Retrieved December 3, 2009.
  5. ^ Cumple Dos Décadas de Historia y Pasión. Periodico La Perla del Sur. (Ponce, Puerto Rico) August 26, 2009. Retrieved September 26, 2009.
  6. ^ Cumple Dos Décadas de Historia y Pasión. Periodico La Perla del Sur. (Ponce, Puerto Rico) August 26, 2009.Retrieved October 15, 2009.
  7. ^ Luis Muñoz Polanco, Engineer, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. Director, Office of Planning and Budget, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. July 7, 1980. In National Register of Historic Places Registration Form - Castillo de Serralles. United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service. (Washington, D.C.) Section 8, Page 3. Listing Reference Number 80004494. November 3, 1980.
  8. ^ Luis Muñoz Polanco, Engineer, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. Director, Office of Planning and Budget, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. July 7, 1980. In National Register of Historic Places Registration Form - Castillo de Serralles. United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service. (Washington, D.C.) Section 8, Page 3. Listing Reference Number 80004494. November 3, 1980.
  9. ^ Luis Muñoz Polanco, Engineer, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. Director, Office of Planning and Budget, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. July 7, 1980. In National Register of Historic Places Registration Form - Castillo de Serralles. United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service. (Washington, D.C.) Section 4, Page 1. Listing Reference Number 80004494. November 3, 1980.
  10. ^ Patronato de Ponce at CastilloSerrales.org
  11. ^ Museo Castillo Serralles
  12. ^ Luis Muñoz Polanco, Engineer, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. Director, Office of Planning and Budget, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. July 7, 1980. In National Register of Historic Places Registration Form - Castillo de Serralles. United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service. (Washington, D.C.) Section 8, Page 3. Listing Reference Number 80004494. November 3, 1980.
  13. ^ Luis Muñoz Polanco, Engineer, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. Director, Office of Planning and Budget, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. July 7, 1980. In National Register of Historic Places Registration Form - Castillo de Serralles. United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service. (Washington, D.C.) Section 8, Page 3. Listing Reference Number 80004494. November 3, 1980.
  14. ^ Luis Muñoz Polanco, Engineer, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. Director, Office of Planning and Budget, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. July 7, 1980. In National Register of Historic Places Registration Form - Castillo de Serralles. United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service. (Washington, D.C.) Section 8, Page 3. Listing Reference Number 80004494. November 3, 1980.
  15. ^ Luis Muñoz Polanco, Engineer, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. Director, Office of Planning and Budget, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. July 7, 1980. In National Register of Historic Places Registration Form - Castillo de Serralles. United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service. (Washington, D.C.) Section 7, Page 2. Listing Reference Number 80004494. November 3, 1980.
  16. ^ Luis Muñoz Polanco, Engineer, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. Director, Office of Planning and Budget, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. July 7, 1980. In National Register of Historic Places Registration Form - Castillo de Serralles. United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service. (Washington, D.C.) Section 7, Page 2. Listing Reference Number 80004494. November 3, 1980.
  17. ^ Luis Muñoz Polanco, Engineer, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. Director, Office of Planning and Budget, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. July 7, 1980. In National Register of Historic Places Registration Form - Castillo de Serralles. United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service. (Washington, D.C.) Section 7, Page 2. Listing Reference Number 80004494. November 3, 1980.
  18. ^ Luis Muñoz Polanco, Engineer, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. Director, Office of Planning and Budget, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. July 7, 1980. In National Register of Historic Places Registration Form - Castillo de Serralles. United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service. (Washington, D.C.) Section 7, Page 2. Listing Reference Number 80004494. November 3, 1980.
  19. ^ Luis Muñoz Polanco, Engineer, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. Director, Office of Planning and Budget, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. July 7, 1980. In National Register of Historic Places Registration Form - Castillo de Serralles. United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service. (Washington, D.C.) Section 7, Page 2. Listing Reference Number 80004494. November 3, 1980.
  20. ^ Patronato de Ponce
  21. ^ Cumple Dos Décadas de Historia y Pasión. Periodico La Perla del Sur. (Ponce, Puerto Rico) August 26, 2009.Retrieved October 15, 2009.
  22. ^ Patronato Castillo Serralles. Retrieved October 15, 2009.
  23. ^ Luis Muñoz Polanco, Engineer, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. Director, Office of Planning and Budget, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. July 7, 1980. In National Register of Historic Places Registration Form - Castillo de Serralles. United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service. (Washington, D.C.) Section 8, Page 3. Listing Reference Number 80004494. November 3, 1980.
  24. ^ Luis Muñoz Polanco, Engineer, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. Director, Office of Planning and Budget, Government of the Municipality of Ponce, Ponce, Puerto Rico. July 7, 1980. In National Register of Historic Places Registration Form - Castillo de Serralles. United States Department of the Interior. National Park Service. (Washington, D.C.) Section 8, Page 3. Listing Reference Number 80004494. November 3, 1980.

Coordinates: 18°01′07.00″N 66°37′09.00″W / 18.01861°N 66.61917°W / 18.01861; -66.61917

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