Hermes Mallea, author of a beautiful book called "Great Houses of Havana," writes:
...its exterior of local Jaimanitas stone, now beautifully weathered, conveys a fortresslike feeling that cannot be accidental. The roof balustrade is a solid parapet instead of the more usual turned balusters. The residence’s many requirements—to act as a symbol; to accommodate a family, endless guests, and a large staff; and to serve as an entertainment venue—resulted in a sixty-five-room building of more than thirty thousand square feet.
The presence of an elevator in the building, unusual for Havana, seems to have been the basis for the rumor that the palatial residence was originally intended to be a winter retreat for Roosevelt, a place for him to relax and plan World War II strategy.
|Cuban artist Jose Fuster stands near the eagle statue during a reception.|
The statue of an American eagle stands in the courtyard. In 1925, it was placed atop a memorial to victims of the USS Maine explosion, according to the blog Open Cuba. A hurricane knocked the eagle down a few months later. A new eagle - with horizontally designed wings aimed at weathering future storms - was re-dedicated in 1928.
|This eagle was hoisted atop the monument in 1928. Photo: Open Cuba|
It's the old eagle - the one that crashed to the ground during a hurricane - that stands at the American ambassador's residence. Records show that the State Department hired a Pennsylvania company to restore a bronze statue in Cuba in September 2011. Maybe this is the same statue.
Milner + Carr Conservation, LLC, got that contract, worth $13,402, according to USASpending.gov records. The company, now called Materials Conservation Collaborative, is based in Philadelphia.