Casa Prado Lima: A 17th Century masterpiece

This month we are celebrating! The restoration of Casa Prado, a dilapidated 17th Century house of major historic, architectural and artistic importance in the centre of Lima, has been given a significant boost by being named, as part of the Lima entry, as one of the top 100 endangered sites 2008 by the World Monuments Fund, more commonly known as the “World Monuments Watch”.

Casa Prado Lima

The nomination of Casa Prado has been a labour of love for my associates and I for the past two years. The attraction was immediate – Casa Prado has such an incredibly unique history and architecture that it desperately needs to be saved.

Built in 1690 using a fascinating amalgamation of European design, indigenous styles and materials, Casa Prado was the main residence of one of the most influential family dynasties in Peruvian history for over two hundred years, and only ceased being a private residence one year ago. The Prado family spawned two Presidents of Peru, each of whom served two terms – Mariano Ignacio Prado (1865-1868 and 1876-1879), and Manuel Prado Ugarteche (1939-1945 and 1956-1962). The family was also renowned for military bravery and heroism in the 19 th Century, with two national heroes proclaimed during this time.

Originally built with adobe (mud brick), the house became a showcase of secular Peruvian architecture as it was enriched over the centuries. Today, it boasts many original fittings, furnishings and artwork including leather, paper and fabric wall-coverings, silver and crystal chandeliers and original Spanish and Peruvian wall and floor tiles. The riches extend beyond the structure and furnishings as the house is host to an incredible Collection of decorative art pieces and furniture from many different periods and styles. This Collection also contains over 100 paintings principally from the Vice-royal and Republican times.

So, with a pedigree like this, why is Casa Prado Lima seriously endangered? The problem is that even in the short time since it stopped being a private residence, the building has begun to show signs of significant structural deterioration, as evidenced by the collapse of one of its walls, which has been temporarily repaired using contemporary materials. It is estimated that US $35,000 is required to put together a project to restore, recover and adapt Casa Prado, so that it can retain its unique place in the history of Peru. That project document will determine how much is needed for the actual restoration. With the World Monuments Fund on our side, let’s hope the tide is turning for Casa Prado.

For more information, see www.worldmonumentswatch.org

If you would like to explore the possibility of donating funds to the Casa Prado appeal, please contact Marisol Mosquera on lajefa@aracari.com

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