Tuesday, August 2, 2011

La Casa de los Gatos

La Casa de los Gatos, Boulevard Espana and Juan Paullier
I have mentioned this house in two previous blog posts, but I vow that this will definitely be the last time.  The house no longer exists.   Once the home of Geronimo Ithurralde, a prominent Montevideo merchant, the mansion located at 2232 Bulevar Espana was demolished earlier this week.  In the early 1900s, Ithurralde designed his grand residence incorporating elements from a favourite castle in Segovia, Spain.   He lived here with his wife, seven sons and one daughter.   In her old age daughter Thula,  the last surviving family member, remained in the house and sheltered more than 20 stray cats.  The reclusive woman kept to herself, looked after her feline companions and died alone - Thula's decomposed body was discovered by police in an upstairs bedroom.   Legend has it that her ghost frequented the watchtower at night.

Demolition begins at the top, with the cupola

Oak staircase is removed

Urns at the entrance

Fine ironwork
Salvaging bits and pieces

Fig leaf decoration
Layers of history

Tile detail

Reduced to rubble

The cat lady's watchtower disappears
Sledgehammer assault

Bulldozer removes the remains

A hole in the streetscape, soon to be filled with an apartment tower
Here is a video of the demolition in progress, the only press coverage that I could find.

On the street

Postscript 5/8/2011:  Today's edition of " El Pais" section B has an article about the house in which architect Mariano Arana mourns the loss of the building, and describes the demolition as "incomprehensible."   Too little, too late, I'm afraid! 


  1. Too bad - it was a gorgeous house and it's easy to imagine how it could have been restored.

  2. Hi, I'm Erich from Basta de Demoler Montevideo. We are seeking for a high definition photograph of this Bulevar España house facade. We need it to make a huge print of it for the protest taking place next saturday at Plaza Independecia against indiscriminate demolitions. Please, if you have this photos in higher resolution e-mail us to contactobdm@gmail.com
    Nice blog, and thank you very much for your help
    you can see our work at www.bastadedemolermontevideo.org

    Erich Schaffner

  3. I leave a block from this old house, it's a pitty.

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    Nice and accurate. Enjoy it!!!