Cassa Lepage On Site Museum
The history of the land where Cassa Lepage was built dates back to 1580, when Don Juan de Garay, the second founder of the city of Santa María de los Buenos Aires, awarded the site in question to Senior Pilot Antonio Bermúdez.
During the following century, in agreement with the archaeological and historical evidence, the place was constituted as a hollow or wasteland, used among other functions to get rid of household waste. Towards 1790, the couple constituted by Don Francisco de Almandoz, a merchant from Navarra, and Doña Josefa de la Puebla, born in Buenos Aires, acquired the property and built a high-rise house, the first stable building located on this site.
After several property exchanges, in the mid-nineteenth century Martín Gregorio de Álzaga acquired the plot on Bolívar street. He married the famous Felicitas Guerrero in 1864 and died in 1870 due to the depression caused by the loss of a son at birth. Felicitas was killed two years later, and his family inherited the property, including the land on Bolivar Street.
Expanding the property, adding an adjoining plot on the corner of Belgrano Street, the
Guerrero's family built a set of rental housing with a narrow internal passage on which the windows of the premises were arranged and it made the nexus between Bolívar street and Belgrano avenue.
Its importance in the history of cinema
In 1900, as remembered by a commemorative plaque on the facade, the first cinematographic filming of Argentina was made, recording the visit of Brazilian President Campos Salles to Argentine Julio A. Roca. In charge of the registry was the Lepage House, which operated in one of the commercial premises of the Belgrano Passage since 1880.
In 1908 it was acquired by Max Glucksmann, pioneer of cinema in the country. On the terrace of the Passage, a small film studio was set up where the first films were recorded. Thus, the building became the cradle of national cinema and the starting point of a great emporium of the audiovisual industry, whose main protagonists are none other than the international voice of tango, Carlos Gardel.
The set of buildings and passage ended up being owned by “La Continental” Insurance Company, which in 1923 commissioned the Argentine art deco master Alejandro Virasoro to completely remodel the facade and other areas of the building.
Elements of urban archeology were discovered
During the 1950s, the expansion that led to Belgrano Street becoming an Avenue was completed. As a consequence of these works of public interest, the entire sector of the Belgrano Passage that gave onto said artery had to be demolished. Part of the remaining land was sold and a high-rise building was built there interrupting the Passage, preventing any entry from Belgrano Street.
In the 2000s, the whole complex was acquired to transform it into a thematic tango hotel. The architect Ana María Carrió was in charge of the direction. During the remodeling, elements of urban archeology were discovered twice in the subsoil of the Belgrano Passage.
Those responsible for the work consulted Daniel Schávelzon, director of the Center for Urban Archeology of the University of Buenos Aires. From that moment on, a series of investigations began that lasted for many years, involving an interdisciplinary team of researchers.
The result was the conformation of the most important collection of colonial archeology recovered to date in the city of Buenos Aires. The findings in the Pasaje Belgrano cover a period of almost 400 years, from the beginning of the 17th century to the first decades of the 20th and are characterized by their abundance and integrity.
Experience art and culture
Cassa Lepage is a unique Art Hotel in Monserrat, a neighborhood that is part of the Buenos Aires city foundations back middle XIX.
Remodeling of the property began in 2000, and the elements of urban archeology soon came to light. The meticulous restoration of the hotel integrated and exposed underground structures (cisterns, water, and garbage wells, sewers, pipes, foundations, and others) corresponding to a long period between the beginning of the 17th century and the first decades of the 20th. More than 300 square meters of the current building are dedicated to the exhibition of archaeological remains, which includes, in addition to the structures, hundreds of artifacts that allow us to reconstruct daily life in old Buenos Aires.