Monday, June 4, 2012

Did eagle get a makeover?

John Caulfield, the chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba, lives in a gorgeous 65-room stone mansion that was built on eight lots in the posh Country Club development, west of Havana.

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.
Construction of the house began in 1940. The first American ambassador moved in 70 years ago.

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
Castro supporters yanked that eagle down in 1961 around the time of the Bay of Pigs invasion. Its shattered wings are on display at the Museum of Havana, according to Lonely Planet. And there was one report that the statue - parts of it, at least - were melted into a dove of peace.

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 records. The company, now called Materials Conservation Collaborative, is based in Philadelphia.


Unknown said...


alongthemalecon said...

Seems like too many rooms, doesn't it? I got that information from the book, "Great Houses of Havana." I haven't confirmed that there actually are 65 rooms.

Unknown said...

thanks tracey. i didn't know the book but i enjoy its presentation from Cuban Heritage Collection. there is a place where we came from. astonish

alongthemalecon said...

De nada, Laz. Es un libro lindisimo.