In Need of Money and TLC

“In need of money and TLC” applies to many of Montevideo’s oldest buildings. The oldest part of the city, Cuidad Vieja, contains many of them, though there are some wonderful gems in the older suburbs of the city, too.   In the last twenty years there have been some excellent restorations, and in all the most historical parts of the city original facades and essential features are now protected for preservation by building codes.

At the corner of Sarandi and Bartolome Mitre in the heart of the Ciudad Vieja is this truly beautiful but dilapidated building, vacant and available for rent or sale, just crying out for some TLC and a lot of financial attention.  It’s by no means the most decayed in the old city, but I hadn’t actually stopped and really looked at it before yesterday (I’m not often in the old city) though Mike walks right past it most days and has been mentioning it for a while.  With my back to a wall to ensure my balance, I looked up and marvelled at its potential, wishing I had the money to restore it.

I don’t know anything about it’s history, though I suspect it dates from the early 1930’s given the predominantly art deco styling.  Montevideo has many gorgeous art deco buildings, and some of the best, including this one, are featured in a recently published book of photography by Alvaro Zinno ,“Montevideo, Cuidad de Bellos Edificios”  (Montevideo, City of Beautiful Buildings) a copy of which I had just bought from a nearby bookshop.  Lots of wonderful pics of whole buildings and interesting detail shots are accompanied by text in spanish and english.  One interesting thing I read in this book is that in 1928 the civic fathers enacted building regulations that mandated every room in a residential building must have direct access to fresh air and therefore light, to improve the health of people living in rented accomodation.  Atriums, stairwells, internal courtyards and skylights proliferate from this time, though I suspect there might still be a few unhealthy internal windowless rooms lurking in a few very old buildings which languish, decaying, unused and largely forgotten about by the city’s modern residents.

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