New life for Victorian-style home in Guadalupe Centro

The owner of a landmark Guadalupe home decided to take out the wooden floors and replace them with concrete in 2006. That’s a big error when the property has been designated a heritage site.

Unusual siding is easy to see as well as the decorative shape of the window frames. Photo: Centro de Patrimonio

So the owner was hit with a 10 million-colon fine. The good news is that the Centro de Patrimonio added 40 million colons to the fine and used the entire sum to restore the structure.

The house involved is the Casa Jimènez Núñez in the center of Guadalupe. Ricardo Jiménez Núñez built it in 1909 and lived there until his death in 1946. The structure is in the Victorian style and features adobe walls, called bahareque in Spanish, and metal sheets for siding. It was designated a national heritage site in 2003.

The structure is one of two landmark homes in the area.

Restoration began in June, and officials announced completion Monday. The home was in an advanced state of deterioration, said the Centro de Patrimonio due to age and because it was involved in a fire Dec. 13, 2008.

The amount involved in restoration would be $97,275 at the current exchange rate.

“The Jiménez Núñez house, aside from being an urban landmark, is a house of the beginnings of the 20th century that has been in the memory of all the Guadalupe residents, because, unfortunately in Guadalupe nearly all of the heritage is lost,” said Sandra Quirós, director of the Centro de Patrimonio. She excepted from this statement the
municipal building and the Escuela Pilar Jiménez, which also are heritage sites. The center is part of the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud.

At one time the home was surrounded by large gardens, said the center. Little by little land was subdivided and sold off, and the greenery vanished. Between 1946 and 2006, the building was owned by the sons of Ricardo Jiménez. Now the owner is a corporation, and the dwelling is unoccupied.

Guadalupe is in the Cantón de Goicoechea just north of San José. The structure is about 245 square meters or about 2,640 square feet.

The exterior metal sheeting, called chapa in Spanish, is not typical of the San José area, the center explained. That type of construction is more traditional in Cartago because it is more resilient during earthquakes, the center said.

The restoration project involved replacing the adobe walls that were in bad shape and the restoration of walls that showed faults, such as erosion of material. The walls got a final coat of clay, lime and a straw-like natural fiber, called pitilla, which is a traditional mix, the center said.

The metal sheets of láminas that could be saved were restored, and corroded or damaged sheets were replaced. The exterior then got a coat of anti-corrosive paint.

Workmen also demolished the concrete floor that had drawn the legal oversight and fine and the floors were replaced with polished wood, said the center.

Exterior wooden columns also were restored or replaced.

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