Puerto Rico’s NRHP Listed Landmarks Part 2
The city of Ponce in the Porta Caribe region of Puerto Rico is a top tourist destination offering a wide variety of activities and a wealth of cultural and historical attractions. This vibrant port city is home to thirty-eight sites listed on the US National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) located in its various barrios. Some of these are high profile tourist attractions, while others are not that well known, but are nonetheless worthy of the protection accorded to them by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.
As one of four NRHP-listed buildings in Ponce constructed in the Neoclásico Isabelino architectural style, the Ponce City Hall (Casa Alcaldía) dates back to 1840 and is the oldest colonial-era building in the city. The stately grey and white edifice serves as the headquarters of the Autonomous Municipality of Ponce and includes the office of the city’s mayor – currently Dr María Eloisa Meléndez Altieri (since 2009), the first woman to hold this position. The other three NRHP-listed Neoclásico Isabelino-style buildings in Ponce are Albergue Caritativo Tricoche, Antiguo Cuartel Militar Español de Ponce, and Antiguo Hospital Militar Español de Ponce. The city hall is located on a central square, typical of Spanish urban planning at the time, and plays a central role in the annual Carnaval de Ponce which takes place in the week prior to Ash Wednesday.
Visitors interested in the history of Ponce should be sure to include the Ponce Historic Zone in their itinerary. Among the many magnificent buildings in this area is the Ponce Cathedral (Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe), the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese and Bishop of Ponce. With a history going back to 1670, the cathedral has suffered earthquake and fire damage during its long history, but has always been restored. The large pipe organ in the cathedral was played by Puerto Rican musician and composer Juan Morel Campos, who composed more than 550 songs and actively promoted the musical genre of danza. The exterior of the cathedral is characterized by two three-story domed towers flanking the front door, while the interior features a main knave, two large aisles and eight arcades, all beautifully decorated.
Other sites in Ponce listed by the NRHP include the Centro Ceremonial Indígena, Cementerio Antiguo de Ponce, Casa Paoli, Faro del Puerto de Ponce, Font-Ubides House, Iglesia de la Santísima Trinidad, Mercado de las Carnes, Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Parque de Bombas de Ponce, Ponce YMCA Building and Villaronga House.
Picture attribution: RoceRuiz (Wikipedia Commons)