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460. alfred gath + 461. lorenzo chaves

Buenos Aires, Gath & Chaves, 1900's

Mega photo post covering two different tombs. It’s almost surprising that Englishman Alfred Gath & Argentine Lorenzo Chaves were not buried in the same mausoleum since together they ran one of the most successful businesses in Argentina.

Gath & Chaves joined forces in 1883 to open up their own men’s wear store. After adding women’s clothes as well home goods, their commercial clout grew enormously. So much so that they built a fantastic main branch on the corner of Perón & Florida in Buenos Aires. With one of the finest interiors in the city, customers could take a break from shopping on the rooftop terrace for a spot of tea. They even added an annex on Avenida de Mayo:

Buenos Aires, Gath & Chaves, 1900's

Buenos Aires, Gath & Chaves, 1900's

Buenos Aires, Gath & Chaves, 1900's

In 1922, the company was acquired by Harrod’s, & branches opened in other cities plus a locale in Santiago de Chile. Unfortunately tough economic times during the late 20th century forced Gath & Chaves to close in 1974. The main branch is now occupied by Banco Meridian, minus the gorgeous interior. It’s gone forever, but the awning & dome remain. The annex also adds a bit of glamour to the beginning of Avenida de Mayo:

Buenos Aires, Gath & Chaves, 2000's

Buenos Aires, Gath & Chaves, 2000's

Buenos Aires, Gath & Chaves, 2010's

Alfred Gath eventually found his way to Recoleta Cemetery in this splendid Neoclassical-Art Deco mausoleum. Urban legend claims that he had a buzzer installed inside his casket… just in case he woke up & found himself trapped. There is zero documentation to support such a strange tale, & apparently Gath’s remains have been transferred to Paris. At least the González y Kordich family can enjoy this beautiful structure covered with allegory. Find representations of Silence & Resurrection:

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Gath/González y Kordich

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Gath/González y Kordich

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Gath/González y Kordich

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Gath/González y Kordich

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Gath/González y Kordich

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Gath/González y Kordich

The tomb for Lorenzo Chaves isn’t nearly as grand, but its location could not be better… one of the first visible after crossing through the entrance gate. He passed away in 1928, & five years later store staff dedicated a plaque to their co-founder on the company’s 50th anniversary. The interior holds a surprise: an ethereal statue of what appears to be Mary holding the baby Jesus, floating on a cloud. Just beneath, a simple engraving states that “his life was: energy, work & generosity.”

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Lorenzo Chaves

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Lorenzo Chaves

Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Lorenzo Chaves

Published inBusiness

12 Comments

  1. el señor F el señor F

    Stunning!

    is there anything left of the interior of the store?

    • Unfortunately, no. It’s all been gutted. Such a shame… can you imagine the look on everyone’s face on entering if it still existed??

  2. el señor F el señor F

    I can, by extrapolating the face of the tourists when entering to the Ateneo Gran Splendid. Or Galería Güemes.

  3. Lucho Lucho

    Hola Robert!!

    El edificio que está enfrente, donde ahora está Falabella, también era un anexo de Gath & Chaves. Estaban unidos por un túnel que corría por debajo de Presidente Cangallo.

    De niño pasé varias veces por ahí.

    Greetings!!!

    • Hola Lucho! Tanto tiempo! Sabia que el edificio de en frente era de ellos también pero no sabia estaba unido por debajo de Perón por un túnel… ahora tendrá acceso al banco?? 🙂 Qué estés bien! Saludos!

  4. Edward Reitano Edward Reitano

    The tunnel I remember very well and the store parking lot, my mother and I use to go there often specially Christmas time.

    With my uncle I use to go to the barbers at Harrods, I remember a big carrousel there, was FUN as we always have tea and cakes.

  5. Thanks for the comment, Edward! Those were some of the golden days of Buenos Aires… it would be wonderful to find a photo somewhere of the tunnel to add to this post. Saludos!!

  6. Amy Amy

    Ahh… Obsessed here. I loathe modern society, take me back to these glorious days!!! 🙂

  7. Hello, I have to write a small paragraph on my Web site, concerning Gath and Chaves and the tango, and I would like to have your authorization to use the first two images. Cordially, D.L.

  8. Bonjour Dominique! You are welcome to use the first two images (they are from old postcards), but I would appreciate a link back to this post. Thanks very much for asking! Saludos!

  9. Bob Boscarato Bob Boscarato

    I remember going shopping to the city with my mother. We lived in Acassuso, took the train to the big city and went shopping. It was a great experience and a pleasure. Stores always busy with shoppers. The personnel always attentive to all of the requests we made.

    Unfortunately all those great buildings are gone now. All we have is our memories.

  10. Hello Bob – Thanks for sharing your memories! Hopefully we can keep the memory of those times alive. Saludos!

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