Restoration work begins in December on the historic theater in San José

Months after the commemoration of the centenary of this building, Historical Heritage of the city, will begin in the coming weeks the work of restoration and improvement of the conditions of construction of the municipal theater, which was once the chapel of a small town in full expansion. In dialogue with the Secretary of Culture, Gustavo Santos, RSM learned the details of the project.

Some time ago, the news spread about the enhancement of the San José building, on the occasion of the centenary of its construction which is approaching. Finally, after discussions and efforts to obtain the necessary financing, which were finally facilitated by the IJAN (Instituto de Juegos de Azar de Neuquén), the works will begin next month, under the direction of the architect and restorer María Victoria Neira, who lives in the town and is a member of the National Commission of Historic Monuments. He already has to his credit the restoration of the Van Dorsser house and the former Intendancy of the Lanín National Park.

“The project includes changing the roof, placing protection under the original Raulí tiles, to prevent leaks and leaks; the thermal and acoustic insulation of the entire building, whose walls will be open, which has never been done before; the total change of the complete electrical installation; polishing and lacquering of exterior wooden boards; change of tables and hidrolaqueado of floor; and the addition of a new door, in the apse of the building, where the changing rooms now operate. The work will retain the original wooden planks and the entire facade. It has been approved by the Heritage Commission and has an estimated execution time of 6 months,” explained Gustavo Santos.

In addition to this important restoration project, the centenary celebrations include the request, already sent to the Ministry of Cultures of Neuquén, for the building to be declared Historical Heritage of the Province of Neuquén. The old construction in which the Municipal Theater operates today not only enjoys enormous emotional and symbolic appreciation from the inhabitants of San Martin, but also “has a great heritage value because it is entirely built with wood from the region, it is representative of the mountain architecture of the early XX century and maintains its original design”, indicates the letter sent to the Minister of Cultures, Marcelo Colonna.

To carry out the organization of the celebrations, the Ministry of Culture has called on institutions, neighbors and neighbors to be part of a Commission for the centenary of the San José building, in order to plan the festivities that will take place between April and May 2023. It was within the framework of this Commission where it was proposed to be able to manage the Declaration of Provincial Historical Heritage of the San José Building. On these dates, it is expected that the facade will be ready and that the roof change will already be completed.

“Having this declaration will be very valuable for the community, since we will be highlighting the cultural heritage of a region which is best known for its natural landscapes, but which also has a unique architectural and urban heritage. Highlighting this heritage will be a great way to visualize and enhance part of our province’s cultural landscape,” details the request sent to the provincial body.

Regarding the importance of this work, the Secretary of Culture said: “I had the opportunity to be present at the celebrations of the centenary of the Popular Library on July 9 and it was a magnificent experience, a community celebration in which we were able to connect with past generations and memories. This case is similar. Speaking of celebrating the building, community work was proposed that integrates different generations, with different symbolic values, linked to religious worship or cultural productions. Converging in this way is very pleasant and will bring a lot of satisfaction”.

Next month, the theater will close its doors to begin renovation works and its own cultural activities will be moved to other scenic spaces, such as Trama and the Cotesma Cultural Center. As if all this were not enough, Santos has announced that the restoration of the emblematic deer will soon begin, located on the waterfront of Lake Lácar, by the artist Alejandro Santana.

Photo: RSM

San José Building – Historical review provided by the Ministry of Culture.

The idea of ​​having a parish in San Martín de los Andes began in 1912, taking advantage of the visit of the Salesian Father Luis Pedemonte, from Junín de los Andes, who celebrated a mass on the day of San José. The proposal was promoted by the Development Commission and several neighbors. In 1913 Father Zacarías Genghini organized a commission to build the chapel. However, it was not until 1922 that work could begin, thanks to the supply of wood from the sawmill of Don Louis Lerin. The wood used was mainly raulí and larch tiles for the roof.

The church was inaugurated on April 21, 1923. In 1946, it became a parish. For fifty-seven years masses, weddings, baptisms, communions and other practices of Catholic worship were celebrated there. With the increase in population, it was decided to build a new building. Thus, on December 23, 1979, the last mass was celebrated in the parish, during the inauguration of the current church.

Photo: RSM

In 1982, the municipality of San Martín de los Andes acquired the old building for its conservation and transformation into theater and cultural activities. The management to carry out this purchase and enhancement was carried out by the Fundación Amigos de la Cultura, chaired by the famous actor of cinema, theater and television, Jorge Villalba, who had settled in the city in 1981. Since June 2001 the theater bears his name.

The building integrates the cadastre of the assets of the architectural, urban and landscape heritage of the municipality by the ordinance n° on the walls, the floor tiles on the ceiling and is representative of the architecture of the founding period of the municipality.

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