A 100-year-old heritage structure in Binondo, Manila, owned by the Hospicio de San José will soon give way to a residential building to be constructed by one of the country’s top real-estate companies. A lease of contract agreement has reportedly been signed with the hospice’s management.
The concrete structure is a 1900s adaptation of an accessoria, a two-story building common in 19th-century Manila, Binondo tour guide and heritage advocate Ivan Man Dy notes in his master’s thesis for the Cultural Heritage Studies program of University of Santo Tomas.
Dy says such building would usually house a number of commercial and residential units, and bodegas (warehouses).
Dy says the Hospicio building was constructed in the early 20th century and “features an eclectic style with Corinthian columns holding up the arcade and a façade punctuated with little details such as cast medallions on the second floor as well as decorative griffins on the uppermost corners of the structure.”
Dy explains the building is significant since it is the last of its kind on Quintin Paredes (Rosario) Street.
A source told the Inquirer that a long-term lease was entered upon by Hospicio with the developer; this will enable the latter to demolish the structure and construct a high-rise condominium building.
However, the building’s embellishments such as the medallions depicting rural scenes as well as the griffins and concrete medallions with cherubim heads will be saved by the Hospico’s sisters, the source added.
American-period court records show the building’s contractor was a certain Romulo Machetti. The building was designed by Arellanos Hermanos, the brothers Arcadio and Juan, both renowned architects.
In 1916, the Hospicio entered an agreement with Machetti for the construction of the building at then 97-121 Rosario St. in Binondo. It was completed the following year.
But the structure was marred by structural defects upon completion, so the Manila court ordered the reconstruction still based on the architectural plans of the Arellanos.
The reconstruction was completed in 1917.
Juan Arellano was the architect of Manila Metropolitan Theater; Legislative Building (now the National Museum of Fine Arts); Manila Central Post Office Building; Central United Methodist Church (on Kalaw Street, Ermita, Manila); old Jaro Municipal Hall in Iloilo, Negros Occidental Provincial Capitol; Cebu Provincial Capitol; Bank of the Philippine Islands Cebu Main Branch (near the Basilica de Minore de Santo Niño de Jesus); Misamis Occidental Provincial Capitol Building; and Jones Bridge.
Hospicio de San José was founded in 1782 in Pandacan, Manila, by Francisco Gomez Enriquez and his wife Barbara for the care of the poor and the mentally ill.
From Pandacan, the institution was transferred to Intramuros, Binondo, and finally to its present site at Isla de Convalecencia on Pasig River in Manila from 1835 to 1840.
It started to care for abandoned babies and children in 1905. From 1905 to 1917, minor offenders were brought here for rehabilitation.
In 1865, the Hospicio started to be managed by the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul. It is governed by a board of directors under the Archbishop of Manila.
Although the Isla de Convalecencia site was marked by the National Historical Institute in 1977, Hospicio’s Binondo building, which functioned as a business establishment, has no official declaration from any national cultural agency. Republic Act No. 10066 states it is a presumed important cultural property since it is more than 50 years old.
The building is also particularly rare due to the embellishments on its façade and the two top front corners. —CONTRIBUTED