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Demolished El Centro house ordered rebuilt

The owner of a property on Calle Hermano Miguel has been ordered to rebuild an historic house he demolished to make way for a parking lot. In addition, Cuenca resident Vicente Querubín Calle was ordered to pay a fine of 50 basic salaries, or about $20,000, by a municipal administrative court.

A drone photo shows what was left of a historic house torn down in August. The owner planned to build a parking lot on the site.

According to the Cuenca historic district authority, part of the destroyed structure dated to the Spanish colonial era while the rest was more than 100 years old. The authority said that the house, located on the east side of Miguel, between Mariscal Sucre and President Córdoba, was illegally demolished in August before the city put a stop order on the project.

The regional director of the Ecuador Institute of Cultural Heritage (INPC) Patricio Zamora called the demolition one of the “most outrageous” cases he has seen. “Any property that dates to the colonial period is a national treasure and the owner understood this but went ahead with the destruction anyway,” Zamora said. “What is worse, he tried to conceal the destruction behind an iron gate he installed for the purpose.”

Zamora said most of the demolition, which involved a tractor and eight laborers, occurred on a weekend and went unnoticed for two days until neighbors reported it.

Felipe Manosalvas, director of the historic district authority, has built a replica of the destroyed building that Calle must follow in the reconstruction. “The previous owners of the property provided us with photos and building plans so we know what the completed project should look like,” Manosalvas said.

He added that construction was be adobe and rammed earth, like the original building, and use the roof tiles removed during demolition.

13 thoughts on “Demolished El Centro house ordered rebuilt

  1. The good news is that people still do rammed earth construction here instead of cement and we may be able to see it in action being built.

    1. We have doing that in the USA for years, there are many new mansions in Scottsdale AZ. and Denver CO. as well as in TX. Those are more or less cost efficient if the earth from the site is usable for the ramming process.

  2. The owner “could” also be facing 1 to 3 years in prison. I suspect this is being held over his head just in case he chooses not to rebuild.

  3. Where is the history in a re-built building? It’s already gone.

    I wonder if the owner had secured permits if he could have done something else with his property?
    I wonder if it was falling down and useless as so many of the old buildings are–from the photos it appears to be so.

    I think Cuenca needs to re-think their historical policies and find a compromise that supports the owners to restore the beautiful buildlings to their former glory, perhaps with some help from the city or UNESCO. It is so very expensive to do, almost prohibitive to build in the old way. Many just sit, unused, making their way back to the earth.

    Also, there are 4 historical designations for old buildings which determine what can be done with them. I wonder which category this one was, and if it was a 4, he could have demolished it entirely, if it was a 3, he could have kept the face and used the inside however he wished.

    I understand the fine. This man will probably sit in jail without the money to rebuild. And the property will stay as it is now, an eyesore for Cuenca.

    1. The previous owners made sure the house was stable and intact when they sold it to the current owner, in no way was that house “falling down”. I had the privilege of seeing it several years ago in person, when the previous owners were still in possession of it. Sr. Querubin must have wanted his parking lot bad enough to overlook the rules about patrimonial houses. He just didn’t care. But you are probably right about the “property will stay as it is now, an eyesore for Cuenca” and a harsh lesson for Sr. Querubin.

  4. A big THANK YOU to both the city of Cuenca and to the Cuenca Historic District Authority for stepping in and stopping this project. Yes, more parking is needed, but not at the expense of the works of art that draw people into the old city. Looking forward to seeing a story in the near future about the new “old” building.

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