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Puerto Rico to host 39th Victorian Society in America annual meeting May 4-8

For the first time, the U.S.-based cultural organization will hold its annual event outside North America


April 7, 2005
Copyright © 2005 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

For the first time in its 39-year history, the Victorian Society in America (VSA) will hold its annual five-day tour and meeting outside the North American continent. The event will take place in Puerto Rico, May 4 to 8.

An estimated 100 participants will tour local homes, churches, and public buildings dating from the 16th to 20th centuries during their stay in Puerto Rico, said VSA member and art historian Federico Suro.

Suro was instrumental in the organization’s selection of Puerto Rico for its annual meeting, through his introduction to the organization of the book "Puerto Rico 1900," by Jorge Rigau, dean of the New School of Architecture at Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico in Hato Rey.

"Through the abundant illustrations in Rigau’s book, VSA leaders became aware of the many well-preserved historical buildings on the island and decided to hold the organization’s 39th annual meeting in Puerto Rico, the first time the organization visits outside the U.S. mainland and Canada," Suro told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS.

Rigau will introduce the island’s unique and diverse architectural legacy in a keynote speech during the VSA’s opening reception, at the Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel & Casino. Rigau and Enrique Vivoni Farage, director of architecture and construction archives at the University of Puerto Rico, will be the cultural group’s tour guides, Suro said.

"The group will begin by tracing Puerto Rico’s rich past with a tour of the picturesque town of San Germán in the southwestern hills of Puerto Rico. The sights will include the ancient Porta Coeli, or ‘Heaven’s Gate’ church, built in the early 1500s, and three private homes that reflect the various late and post-Victorian styles, from Queen Anne to European art nouveau and bungalow," Suro said.

On the second day, the VSA members will go on a walking tour of Old San Juan, where they will be shown the city’s roots as a fortified city in the early post-Christopher Columbus days to its early 20th century focus on building architecturally significant civic and governmental buildings along Constitution Avenue, Suro explained.

The following day the doors of buildings normally off-limits to everyday sightseers in Ponce will be opened exclusively for the group’s visit to the city considered Puerto Rico’s 19th century crown jewel, or the island’s "Pearl of the South," Suro added. Special stops in Ponce will include the red-and-black-horizontal-striped Parque de Bombas (historical firehouse), the Cathedral of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas), and Casa Monsanto, a privately owned 19th-century townhouse, one of the many architectural gems on Ponce’s Isabel and Reina streets. The trip to Ponce will end with a visit to the Ponce Art Museum, which houses the best collection of European art in Latin America, along with the island’s best.

Events at the UPR and Puerto Rico Polytechnic University will include the VSA’s annual meeting, during which members will elect a new board of directors, as well as a tour of the Puerto Rico Art Museum in Santurce, where they will hear a lecture on Puerto Rican art.

On a postmeeting tour, the group will visit the restored architectural masterpieces of Casa Roig in Humacao and Casa Cautiño in Guayama, Suro revealed.

"During their stay, VSA members will also enjoy the many fine restaurants, shops, and spectacular natural scenery Puerto Rico has to offer," Suro added.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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