San Telmo, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Agent: Cliff Jacobs - Managing Principal Estate Agent & CEO (Nat.Dpl.Hotel Man (UJ). M.P.R.E.)
Agent Cellphone: +27 (0) 84 413 1071 / +27 (0) 61 716 6951
Agent Office Number: +27 (0) 21 554 0283
Agent Email Address: email@example.com
Type: Boutique Hotel
Yield: Not Disclosed
San Telmo, Buenos Aires
San Telmo ("Saint Pedro González Telmo") is the oldest barrio (neighborhood) of Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is a well-preserved area of the Argentine metropolis and is characterized by its colonial buildings. Cafes, tango parlors and antique shops line the cobblestone streets, which are often filled with artists and dancers. A street named the "Illuminated Block" is where many of these important historical buildings can be found.
San Telmo's attractions include old churches (e.g. San Pedro Telmo), museums, food halls and stalls, antique stores and a semi-permanent antique fair (Feria de Antigüedades) in the main public square, Plaza Dorrego. Tango-related activities for both locals and tourists are in the area.
Known as San Pedro Heights during the 17th century, the area was mostly home to the city's growing contingent of dockworkers and brickmakers; the area became Buenos Aires' first "industrial" area, home to its first windmill and most of the early city's brick kilns and warehouses. The bulk of the city's exports of wool, hides and leather (the Argentine region's chief source of income as late as the 1870s) were prepared and stored here in colonial times. Their presence led to the first residential settlements in this area: that of Africans, slaves and free, alike.
Previously separated from Buenos Aires proper by a ravine, the area was formally incorporated into the city in 1708 as the "Ovens and Storehouses of San Pedro." The neighborhood's poverty led the Jesuits to found a "Spiritual House" in the area, a charitable and educational mission referred to by San Pedro's indigent as "the Residence;" their 1767 suppression led to the mission's closure, however.
The void left by the Jesuits' departure was addressed by the 1806 establishment of the Parish of San Pedro González Telmo (or "San Telmo"), so named in honor of the Patron Saint of seafarers. This move failed to replace the lost social institutions, however, and San Telmo languished well after Argentine independence in 1816. The Jesuit Residence, restored as a clinic by Guatemalan friars, was shuttered in 1821, and San Telmo saw no public works for the next 30 years except a Black Infantrymen's Quarters and the construction of the dreaded Mazorca Dungeon by Governor Juan Manuel de Rosas.
San Telmo began to improve despite these challenges, particularly after Rosas' removal from power in 1852. The establishment of new clinics, the installation of gas mains, lighting, sewers, running water and cobblestones and the opening of the city's main wholesale market led to increasing interest in the area on the part of the well-to-do and numerous imposing homes were built in the western half of San Telmo. This promising era ended abruptly when an epidemic of yellow fever struck the area in 1871. The new clinics and the heroic efforts of physicians like Florentino Ameghino helped curb the northward spread of the epidemic, but as time went on it claimed over 10,000 lives, and this led to the exodus of San Telmo's growing middle and upper classes into what later became Barrio Norte.
At first hundreds of properties became vacant. A few of the larger lots were converted into needed parks, the largest of which is Lezama Park, designed by the renowned French-Argentine urban planner Charles Thays in 1891 as a complement to the new Argentine National Museum of History. Most large homes, though, became tenement housing during the wave of immigration into Argentina from Europe between 1875 and 1930. San Telmo became the most multicultural neighborhood in Buenos Aires, home to large communities of British, Galician, Italian and Russian-Argentines. The large numbers of Russians in San Telmo and elsewhere in Buenos Aires led to the consecration of Argentina's first Russian Orthodox Church in 1901. Expanding industry to the south also led a German immigrant, Otto Krause, to open a technical school here in 1897.
San Telmo's bohemian air began attracting local artists after upwardly mobile immigrants left the area. The increasing cultural activity resulted in the opening of the Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art by critic Rafael Squirru in 1956, as well as in the 1960 advent of the "Republic of San Telmo," an artisan guild that organized art walks and other events. San Telmo's immigrant presence also led to quick popularization of tango in the area: long after that genre's heyday, renowned vocalist Edmundo Rivero purchased an abandoned colonial-era grocery in 1969, christening it El Viejo Almacén ("The Old Grocery Store"). This soon became one of the city's best-known tango music halls, helping lead to a cultural and economic revival in San Telmo.
The 1980 restoration of the former Ezeiza family mansion into the Pasaje de la Defensa ("Defensa Street Promenade"), moreover, has led to the refurbishment of numerous such structures, many of which had been conventillos (tenements) since the 1870s. As most of San Telmo's 19th-century architecture and cobblestone streets remain, it has also become an important tourist attraction.
A great number of contemporary art galleries, art spaces and museums are located in this area. In 2005 the gallery and artist-run space Appetite opened and the Argentine public and media immediately noticed the crowds attending its openings and parties. Other art galleries began setting up in this neighborhood and it became a Mecca of contemporary art. The first to talk about it was Rolling Stone magazine which said in late 2006: "When all the movement seemed to be getting installed at Palermo, the Daniela Luna tornado opened the appetite with an art gallery in San Telmo and little by little is monopolizing the neighborhood and transferring the scene." A few months later the New York Times said that "To find Appetite, an avant-garde gallery that everyone I met recommended, I had to return to one of San Telmo's less atmospheric blocks." Many media remarked the transformation of San Telmo into a destination for contemporary art lovers, such as the newspaper La Nacion which counted around 30 galleries and art centers in 2008. Later that year, the same newspaper published another article that stated: "Contemporary art moved into the neighborhood. San Telmo Art District is born."
A crazy dream
“If we move abroad and build a hotel?”.
One way trip to Buenos Aires later, here we are, fighting against the local administration to get all the authorizations and paperwork fixed.
Its former owners moved north, the house became a family hotel, or tenement, for almost a century. Up to twenty families lived in it. The bathroom and kitchen were shared; each room hosted a whole family. The second floor was added in 1960 to receive more inhabitants. Towards the end of the 1980s, the tenants took control of the house when the owner passed away.
Proud to have found a charming ruin, all cracked and full of potential, right in the heart of the vibrant and historic district: San Telmo. The old structure was waiting for Our youthful and impatient energy to tremble again, after years of sleep. Built in 1889, the house was the home of a wealthy family who fled, like many others, frightened by the yellow fever epidemic that hit the south of the city in the late 19th century.
This delicate situation lasted about ten years and the old house was stripped of its most noble assets: fireplaces, French wood floors, moldings, chandeliers, marble and other decorations. Trenches were dug in the walls to rip out the copper pipes! After ten years of total neglect, we fell in love, the house and us, in 2012. A year later, the administration finally gave us the green light and construction work began in August 2013.
A real change
The challenge was tough: everything should be renovated keeping the spirit of the old house and protecting everything that could be saved, especially the cement tiles, the wooden doors and windows, the marble stairs and some elements of blacksmithing.
After two and a half years of hard and dusty jobs, the vision that we had the first time we saw the house finally took shape. A hotel that combines modern comfort with the charm of ancient architecture, the traditional style of the chorizo houses of Buenos Aires with our Parisian tastes, high-quality service with a warm welcome. It is during the fall of 2016 of the On Hemisphere that The Boutique Hotel hosts its doors to receive in our place, in your place, in Buenos Aires. Our hotel took five years to refine this hotel, hoping that it will only take five minutes to love it.
In San Telmo