Coffee trade landmark in Heredia gets a new life

This is a photo of the Casona de Bahareque del Beneficio Miramontes, before restoration. Photo: Centro de Patrimonio

A sagging typical Costa Rican structure in Heredia has been restored six years after it was declared a national heritage site.

Culture minister Manuel Obregon and others from the Centro tour the finished product. Photo: Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud

The structure is the Casona de Bahareque del Beneficio Miramontes, which was built in 1894 to play a role in coffee production.

The Centro de Patrimonio of the culture ministry invested 50 million colons or about $100,000 to completely re-roof the structure with galvanized sheets, replace downspouts and replace interior ceilings. Some of the original wood was replaced, too, the Centro said.

Workmen also had to replace the entire electrical system down to the light fixtures.

The structure is not far from the new Hospital de Heredia and is occupied by the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. Originally it was a collection point for coffee and where pickers were paid in tokens or boletos for their work.

The building was put up outside the coffee plantation or cafetal Miramontes, which is known in Heredia as the Finca La Mancha, said the Centro.

The structure is a sprawling 340 square meters or about 3,660 square feet. Central American Light Weight Construction, S.A. did the restoration as laid out by architects Sandra Quirós Bonilla and Verónica Solórzano Rojas of the Centro.

Ms. Quirós, who also is director of the Centro, said that as of 2010 her agency will be concentrating on the history of coffee exports to identify heritage sites, routes of communication, structures and even intangible aspects in order to create an inventory.

The casona is considered important because of the role it played in the coffee trade. She said she hoped that the work would stimulate the Caja to make similar updates on adjacent structures. The casona now is used as an administrative office and as a training hall.

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