Currently the center is involved in a 100 million colons ($196,000) project to restore two neighboring, historic structures near Parque Morazán in downtown San Jose. Although the primary goal of the project may not be to promote tourism, that result may go hand in hand.
The center’s head of restoration and conservation, Adrian Vindas, said at the very least tourism is an added bonus. He pointed to México and Europe as prime examples of places where citizens preserve their architectural heritage and, in turn, draw visitors.
“Clearly there exists an important connection between tourism and the preservation of national history,” Vindas said. “Tourists are very interested in historical architecture, especially when its works express part of the culture of a country, its influences and values.”For those reasons Vindas said he believes the two structures in downtown San José, Casa Jiménez de la Guardia and Edificio Maroy, are worth rehabilitating. The Casa Jiménez de la Guardia is one of the few standing examples in San José of architecture done in the style of art nouveau. And, once belonging to the prominent Jiménez de la Guardia family, it stands as an important landmark in the collective memory of the city.
The site is on Calle 5 just a half block north of Avenida Primera. It is on a street that receives a lot of tourist foot traffic due to the nearby park, Holiday Inn and other locations for accommodations.
Although the ownership of the property is still being decided in court, Vindas said ultimately the buildings may be used for cultural purposes in a joint project between the ministry and Banco Popular.
He said the project should be completed within two months and will include a total overhaul of the inside and outside, including the ornate ironwork. The job requires carpentry and fresh coats of paint. And the buildings are in need of it too. The walls are lined with graffiti and the outside structures stand in disrepair.Workmen last week had the roof off the entire structure and were installing new galvanized corrugated sheets.
One of the workers helping to rehabilitate the house said his is a specialized type of work, attempting to preserve, and at the same time renovate, something that old. He said it comes with its unique challenges compared to other types of construction. The structure is believed to be more than 100 years old.
Gerardo Cartin, who works at a parking lot across the street said he is tired of watching the building deteriorate. The front courtyard has been a trash dump and homeless refuge for years.
“It’s a beautiful building,” he said. “But the restoration will make it better.”