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.
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.