CUENCA DIGESTRestoration of Remigio Crespo Toral Museum scheduled; San Francisco Square project delayed for more planning

Oct 24, 2013

Funding has been allocated for the repair and restoration of the Remigio Crespo Toral Museum on Calle Larga. The 110 year old building was included last month on a list of historic buildings of international value in urgent need of repair by the World Monument Fund (WMF)..

Established in 1947 as the the Cuenca municipal museum, the Remigio Crespo Toral collection and includes art dating from the 1600s, public documents, including Spanish royal charters and decrees, a 4,000-piece numismatic collection of coins dating from the early days of Spanish rule to the present, as well as a large photographic record of Cuenca dating from the the 1800s.

According to museum management the museum has been suffering deteriation for years, although the problems only became severe recently. Of the 90 rooms in the building only four a currently open the public. In 2011, a back terrace collapsed as supporting beams gave way.

Funding for the project includes more than $2 million from the municipal and federal governments.

Archetictural studies will begin within weeks according to museum officials and renovations could begin as early as March of 2014.

‘Short’ delay for San Francisco Square project

Cuenca’s Historical Areas Commission says that the San Franscico Square redevelopment project will be delayed by several weeks due to additional planning requirements. chl san fran

The $9 million project includes construction of a two-level plaza, renovation of adjacent city property to be used by crafts vendors, construction of a parking garage and rerouting of traffic on at least one adjacent street.

According to Daniel Astudillo, director of the Historical Areas Commission, the delay is needed to complete planning work currently underway. “This is a large project and we need to have our preliminary work completed before construction begins.”

San Francisco Square, two blocks southeast of the cathedral, was the civic center of Cuenca in 18th and much of the 19th century. It hosted most of the city’s public events, including festivals, religious celebrations and fireworks shows as well as public executions.

The area fell into disrepair in the mid-20th century and city governments since 1956 have vowed, without results, to restore it. Current Cuenca mayor Paul Granda has made the project a priority of his administration, promising that work will be underway while he is in office. Granda runs for reelection in February 2014.

A major part of the project is to move clothing and houseold goods vendors, currently housed in metal structures, to the new underground level of the  plaza. Vendors have complained that the move will hurt business but the city maintains that the redesigned plaza will be a major tourist attraction and will increase traffic.

Photo caption: Artist’s conception of the renovated San Francisco Square.

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