Havana Houses

The Green House Havana: symbol and legend.

-You'll have a sad final-, those were the only words that a fortune teller managed to say to the young Luisa Catalina Rodríguez Faxas at that time, who was the last owner of the enigmatic Green House in   Havana, which today stands as one of the architectural bastions of Havana city.

Located at the entrance of 5th Avenue, Green House a piece created f by the architect José Luis Echarte, who built it commanded by Armando de Armas, who was the butler of the palace during the two presidential periods of General Mario García Menocal.  At the beginning it was a three story house, with dormer windows, a cone-shaped tower and a pitch roof covered with American green tiles, which was the most distinctive element. Built of concrete, brick walls and marble floors.  By the time it was built, what you could find in the first  floor was  a porch, a garden, a hall at the entrance,  a living room, a  dining room, a library ,a bathroom, a kitchen, a pantry,a  garage in the basement with space  for four cars , a laundry and a utility room. On the second floor there were five rooms, three bathrooms, four closets, and on the third floor threre was a hall and a family room with its bathroom, and three bedrooms for servants with bathrooms in them. On the top, there were two rooms for carpentry and furniture. All the stories in the house are connected among the r by a spiral-shaped stair while the main floors are connected through a helical staircase plated with pieces of Carrara marble and iron railing with wooden handrail. This beautiful piece of architecture was initially valued at 100 000 pesos. In 1943 the house was acquired by an investment company Jarpe SA for 60 000 pesos and sold in November of that same year to the 20 years old Miss Luisa Catalina Rodríguez Faxas for an amount of  50 000 pesos. 

           

Luisa Catalina would marry the writer and lawyer Mario Cabrera Saqui. From that union Mario Andrés, Richard and Regina were born, who were their three children. During a family visit to his home in Miami in November 1959, her husband Mario, died because of a massive heart attack. Luisa left their children under the care of an aunt and returned to Havana with the corpse of the deceased husband. She wanted all the properties of her deceased  husband to be legally hers  and after that returned to the United States to return to Cuba with   their children, but in the  historical and political context because of the triumph of the Revolution and the breaking of the diplomatic relations between  Cuba and the United States, traveling was becoming more difficult and mailing  and telephone calls were becoming an utopia. Luisa would never see her children again.

 

Luisa would got married again, this time with Dr. Pedro Hechemendía, who was his former doctor and  friend of her and her brother her deceased brother Luis Mariano. The Northern family never forgave these. Only  her daughter Regina  wrote her  to let her  know  the birth of her grandchildren. She also divorced doctor Hechemendia, being alone again in the Green House with no husband and no news of her children.

 

In the 70s his niece Marisabel, daughter of Luis Mariano, became an important person in her life. She sometimes visited the house of her friend Marisabel, who considered Luisa as her own aunt. So, time went by, surrounded by her nephews on social gatherings and evening entertainment. She suffered from lung cancer, which took her life in   June 11, 1999, and Marisabel, her niece, six months after the death of her aunt had a heart attack. In the absence of descendants or relatives with possibility of inheriting the property it was declared abandoned.

Today, the house serves as a cultural promoter for the study of modern, contemporary and future architecture center. It has a   navigation room for professional exchange and consultation of bibliographies and a conference room where lectures on the planning and architecture will be offered. Considering the importance of the area where it is located and the   architectural value, the house underwent through major repairs, with the aim of giving it the original image. The restoration project deserved the prestigious National Restoration Award 2010. The truth is that the Green House is a bridge to the past, from the impetus and the beauty it transmit into the present.