Skip to content

Month: October 2013

513. raimundo wilmart de glymes de hollebecque

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Raimundo Wilmart de Glymes de Hollebecque

Tucked away in the seemingly infinite rows of mausoleums in the southern corner of the cemetery, the little information online about Raimundo Wilmart is as surprising as his full name is long.

Born in 1850 in Jodoigne-Souveraine, a small town in the center of Belgium, Wilmart arrived in Argentina at the age of 22. He had a single purpose: to visit the Asociación Internacional del Trabajo (AIT). Recently formed, the industrial union followed European principles based on ideas put forth by Marx & Engels. In short, Raimundo Wilmart came to Argentina to see if scientific socialism was being put into practice in Argentina.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Raimundo Wilmart de Glymes de Hollebecque

Wilmart had previously attended the 1872 AIT conference in The Hague where he was commissioned to travel to Argentina. Immediately after arrival, he scoped out the situation & wrote three letters to Marx. The Argentine AIT had 250 members at the time, but proletarian struggle failed to unite the group. Wilmart reported that the group constantly separated into national cliques, based on the immigrant’s country of origin. He even handed out free copies of Das Kapital but felt like no one ever read the book!

Disappointed, Wilmart planned to return to Europe but never did. After studying law in Córdoba, he moved up in social circles & became a judge in Mendoza. In 1899, Wilmart returned to Buenos Aires & joined the law school faculty. He even formed part of the committee which failed to approve the doctoral thesis of Socialist Alfredo Palacios… Wilmart made a 180º turn in his politics, supporting capitalism & failing to sympathize with factory workers.

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Héctor de Glymes de Hollebecque

Wilmart visited his homeland in 1909, returned to Argentina & died in Buenos Aires in 1937. Letters he received from Karl Marx were lost forever, burned by his daughter in fear of tarnishing her father’s reputation.


512. julio dormal

Mausoleo de San Martín, Catedral Metropolitana, Buenos Aires

Recognized Argentine architects like Julián García Núñez & Alejandro Christophersen helped build Recoleta Cemetery and were buried there as well. But surprisingly few burial sites for major architects are known today. Perhaps they shared a similar fate as that of Julio Dormal…

Born in 1846 in Liège (Belgium), Jules Dormal Godet arrived in Argentina after studying architecture in Paris. Early business deals failed but after settling in Buenos Aires in 1870, Dormal’s timing & contacts could not have been better. Sarmiento hired him to design a new park—Parque 3 de Febrero—previously occupied by the estate of the President’s arch-enemy, Juan Manuel de Rosas.

Many more projects followed. In fact, Dormal was responsible for several landmarks still visible today in Buenos Aires. He designed the tomb to house the remains of General San Martín inside the cathedral (top photo above). After the assassination of architect Victor Meano, he continued construction of the National Congress:

Buenos Aires, Congreso Nacional

Meano also left the Teatro Colón incomplete, so Dormal took over as well & designed much of the interior:

Buenos Aires, Teatro Colón

Buenos Aires, Teatro Colón, Jules Dormal

Buenos Aires, Teatro Colón, Jules Dormal

In following years, Dormal completed or executed from start to finish many of the aristocratic mansions in the northern sector of the city. The Palacio Pereda now houses the Brazilian embassy:

Buenos Aires, Palacio Pereda

Unfortunately many of those grand houses have since been demolished. But the residence for Julio Peña still stands on Calle Florida, now occupied by the Sociedad Rural Argentina. Non-members can get a peek at the luxury inside by going for lunch at the restaurant:

Buenos Aires, Palacio Julio Peña, Sociedad Rural Argentina, Julio Dormal

Buenos Aires, Palacio Julio Peña, Sociedad Rural Argentina, Julio Dormal

Not limited to only Buenos Aires, Dormal also built several notable structures in other cities. Perhaps his most emblematic work outside the capital is the very afrancesado Casa de Gobierno in La Plata:

La Plata, Casa de Gobierno, Julio Dormal

La Plata, Casa de Gobierno, Julio Dormal

La Plata, Casa de Gobierno, Julio Dormal

Dormal passed away in 1924 & was buried in Recoleta Cemetery inside the mausoleum belonging to his second wife, Elena Sosa Díaz. But his remains were cremated in 1989 and, according to cemetery records, were likely placed inside the Dolmas Arévalo vault. Why? No one knows. However, neither the Sosa Díaz tomb nor that of Dolmas Arévalo exist today.

Hopefully Jules Dormal continues to rest in peace wherever he may be.

Photos of the Casa de Gobierno in La Plata courtesy of Marcelo Metayer.

Leave a Comment