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Month: August 2009

342. familia ramos

Familia Ramos, Recoleta Cemetery

Not a bad shot considering how difficult it was to take. The Ramos family likes their privacy so mausoleum doors are covered with closed curtains. But a small glass panel above the doors allows for an arm-stretching, blind shot & reveals this beautiful stained glass image of the Immaculate Conception.


341. baby morra ◊

Carlos Morra, Recoleta Cemetery

Young deaths are tragic to everyone, but it must be devastating to living parents. Inés Lucía Morra Victorica—known to her family as Baby—passed away in Paris at the age of 21, & her parents left no doubt about their sentiments. Below is the original inscription in Italian followed by a translation into English:

Raro esempio di grazia di bellezza di bonta, illuminando col sorriso la sventura, lenendo colla pietá il dolore. Baby Morra seppe con le doti eccelse della mente e del cuore vincere l’alta distinzione di un nome illustre. I genitori qui preceduti straziati inconsolabili seppellirono con essa il cuore, la pace, l’energia, la speme.

Rare example of grace, of beauty, of kindness, illuminating misfortune with a smile, relieving pain with pity. Baby Morra knew with her generous heart & mind how to overcome the distinction of an upper-class name. The parents here with inconsolable surrender bury with her emotions, peace, energy, hope.

The dedication gives some hint to Baby Morra’s family background & her parents eventually joined her in the same mausoleum. Carlos Morra was the Marquis of Monterocchetta, born in Benevento, Italy in 1854. He trained to be a military engineer & arrived in Argentina during initial waves of immigration in 1881. Early collaboration with French immigrant architect Norberto Maillart allowed him to work on the centennial expo in Plaza San Martín in Buenos Aires. His military background was also put to good use by the Argentine government with several installations designed by Morra.

Carlos Morra, Recoleta Cemetery

Carlos Morra, Recoleta Cemetery

But the character of his work shifted from military to civic over time. Morra built the Palace Hotel on Avenida Alem for Nicolás Mihanovich in 1905, directly across the street from where the Mihanovich company headquarters would be located in 1912:

Palace Hotel, Buenos Aires

After designing several houses, Morra was appointed head architect for the Nacional Education Council (Consejo Nacional de Educación). A series of schools still in use today were built by Morra & left a distinct mark on Buenos Aires. Probably his most recognized school is that of Presidente Roca, located in a prime spot on Plaza Lavalle just across the street from the Teatro Colón:

Escuela Presidente Roca, Plaza Lavalle

Another landmark building designed by Morra was projected to be headquarters for the National Lottery but instead became the National Library:

ex-Biblioteca Nacional, Buenos Aires

Morra continued to win recognition throughout his lifetime from both Argentina & Italy, was elected President of the Sociedad Central de Arquitectos several times, & continued to design buildings until his death in 1926. Also of interest, Morra has another construction in Recoleta Cemetery… a tomb for the Cascallares de Paz family:

Recoleta Cemetery, Cascallares de Paz, Carlos Morra

Recoleta Cemetery, Michaela Cascallares de Paz, Carlos Morra

For further information about Carlos Morra’s contributions to Argentine architecture, consult Alejandro Machado’s blog: Arquitectos Italianos en Buenos Aires (in Spanish).

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340. gral wenceslao paunero

Wenceslao Paunero, Recoleta Cemetery

Early figures in Argentine history are usually the most complex to document because they participated in almost every major event. National population was smaller, the elite kept themselves in power & most military figures ran parallel lives as politicians. Adding to the mix were powerful alliances, & Argentines became involved in events spanning half the continent. Wenceslao Paunero was no exception with a lifelong military career & political allies among the most recognized names in Argentina.

Born in 1805 in Colonia del Sacramento, Paunero was a child during Argentina’s independence from Spain. At the age of 20, he joined the Argentine army & fought for his hometown during the 1825-28 war with Brazil. Although captured & later freed as part of a prisoner exchange, it did not hinder Paunero from moving up in the ranks.

Wenceslao Paunero, Recoleta Cemetery

Paunero later joined forces with General Juan Lavalle, participating in battles throughout northern Argentina & negotiating with opposition forces led by cuadillo Juan Facundo Quiroga. After exile experiences in Bolivia & Perú, meeting Domingo Sarmiento & Bartolomé Mitre in Chile brought Paunero into new political circles. Paunero fought against Rosas & was consequently promoted to the highest military position Buenos Aires could offer.

Once internal issues were somewhat settled, Paunero had little time to rest. Under the presidency of Mitre, he was sent to command troops in the War of the Triple Alliance. Mitre later promoted Paunero to Minister of War/Defense & in 1868 he ran as a Vice-President under a losing ticket with Rufino de Elizalde. Always serving his country, Paunero passed away in Rio de Janeiro as Ambassador to Brazil in 1871 at the age of 65.

His tomb was declared a National Historic Monument in 1946 & sits quietly at the end of a row that very few tourists visit. The modern style does not fit with the date of Paunero’s death, so most likely a later family member had this built & his remains transferred to Recoleta Cemetery.

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338. progress for alfonsín

Raúl Alfonsín, Recoleta Cemetery

Over the past four months, a lot of progress has been made for the future burial spot of former President Raúl Alfonsín. Engravings are finished as well as a plaque in place quoting one of Alfonsín’s most famous speeches. Although the stained glass dome is not of high quality, at least it adds a bit of color:

Raúl Alfonsín, Recoleta Cemetery

No official word as to when the transfer will take place. At least barricades have been removed from the UCR Pantheon where Alfonsín is currently buried, & everyone can now get a look at his casket:

UCR Pantheon - Alfonsín, Recoleta Cemetery