The impressive green building and wrought iron fence are hard to miss when traveling east on Avenida 7 at Calle 5. Not everyone realizes that the structure is more than 100 years old.
This has been the headquarters of Alianza Francesa, the French cultural center, for the last 50 years
Keeping a primarily wooden building in good condition in the tropics is not easy. So the latest project is getting some 16 million colons (about $30,000) from the Centro de Investigación y Conservación del Patrimonio Cultural.
Alianza Francesa recently completed internal restorations of the roof framework. Now the work will center on the six dormer windows, the brick front and the window and door
frames. The roof will get a paint job, as will most of the exterior wood trim. The unique metal decorative items also will be spiffed up, said the Centro de Patrimonio, part of the Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud.
The structure, built in 1896, is a snapshot of how a coffee baron lived. The building went up as a home for Manuel Sandoval Jiménez. This is when Costa Rica and San José were developing European tendencies, and down the street the Teatro Nacional was being erected. The location, of course, is in Barrio Amón, once the home of the rich and famous.
Alianza Francesa gives many lessons in French in the building, and it also is a stop on the Art City Tour. Expats who are interested in the building’s history and architecture are able to drop by for a visit and perhaps refreshments at the cafe.