House to be earth­quake mu­seum

Costa Blanca News (South Edition) - - News - By Alex Watkins [email protected]­

THE LAST re­main­ing house in Al­moradí which was de­signed by the ar­chi­tect José Agustín de Lar­ra­mendi after the 1829 earth­quake has been ac­quired by the town hall to turn into a mu­seum about the dis­as­ter.

The prop­erty on Calle La Reina was given to a fam­ily whose own home was de­stroyed, and was one of 132 that were handed over those who had been sim­i­larly af­fected, ex­plained coun­cil­lor for her­itage and his­to­rian José An­to­nio La­torre.

All the oth­ers, in­clud­ing ones in other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, have been re­stored or pulled down to make way for new build­ings, which means this could stake a claim to be the first so­cial home in Spain.

The earth­quake also dev­as­tated Guardamar, Torrevieja and Bene­júzar, but Al­moradí was hit worst, with 192 of the to­tal of 386 lives lost.

A Royal De­cree was is­sued in 1830 to re­build these mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and re­house those left home­less.

It was the first time that the Span­ish monar­chy had paid for homes for vic­tims of a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter.

Mu­nic­i­pal ar­chi­tect Víc­tor Ro­dríguez said these houses were ‘an early trial of what would be the strat­egy of build­ing pub­lic hous­ing in Spain’.

This sim­ple 140-square me­tre, one-storey dwelling with two rooms is be­ing bought by the town hall for €46,000 from two si­b­lings who in­her­ited it, José An­drés and Is­abel Her­rero, who will also hand over the orig­i­nal lock and key.

It still has its orig­i­nal earthen floor, cane roof­ing, and pine beams and doors, although the rest is a ruin and will re­quire ex­ten­sive restora­tion.

“We wanted this house be­cause it is the only orig­i­nal one by Lar­ra­mendi left stand­ing and we feared it could de­te­ri­o­rate more so the in­ten­tion is to re­pur­pose it dur­ing the next leg­is­la­ture as a place to re­mem­ber the earth­quake that flat­tened the Vega Baja, as there is still noth­ing in the area to chart this im­por­tant event in its his­tory,” ex­plained Sr La­torre.

A replica of the dou­ble front doors will be made for the en­trance, which is now about 50cm below the pave­ment after be­ing re­peat­edly resur­faced over 187 years.

The last of the homes

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