San Juan Landmarks Listed by NRHP

On March 11, 2013, it was announced by United States Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar that two sites in Puerto Rico are among the thirteen newly designated National Historic Landmarks of the United States. These are the historic district of Old San Juan and the home of Dr. Concha Meléndez located in El Condado, San Juan. The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of places deemed worthy of preservation by the United States federal government. The NRHP includes sites, buildings, structures, districts and objects and is administered by the US National Park Services. Although Puerto Rico is a commonwealth unincorporated territory of the United States, it is included in the NRHP.

The Old San Juan Historic District is the oldest city in the United States and US territories and as such includes the oldest Christian church and convent, as well as the oldest house, executive mansion and military defenses. According to the press release from the Department of Interior, Old San Juan represents four centuries of Spanish culture, religion, politics and architecture. With its beautifully preserved and brightly painted buildings, cobblestone roadways and pervasive atmosphere of old-world charm and dignity, Old San Juan is among the city’s most visited attractions. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and San Juan Bay, El Morro is a formidable castle fortress built to guard the city from attacks from the sea. The Raíces Fountain and the spectacular Paseo de la Princesa add to the charm of Old San Juan.

Built in 1940, Casa Dra. Concha Melendez Ramirez, was the home of Puerto Rican educator, essayist, poet, intellectual and literary critic, Dr. Concha Meléndez Ramírez (1895-1983). Born and raised in Caguas, Meléndez earned her teacher’s certificate from the University of Puerto Rico. While studying further for her Bachelor’s Degree, which she obtained in 1924, Meléndez taught at the University’s high school. In 1926 she obtained her Master’s Degree from Columbia University before returning to her homeland and becoming a professor at the University of Puerto Rico. Meléndez went on to study at the National University of Mexico, obtaining her Doctorate in philosophy and letters, and upon her return to Puerto Rico was awarded the title of Professor Emeritus in Hispanic-American Literature. Meléndez was founder of the Chair of the Hispanic American Literature and co-founder of the Hispanic Studies Department at the University of Puerto Rico, leaving a legacy that has benefited many.