The Font-Ubides House of the Historic Zone of Ponce
Located on Castillo Street in the historic zone of Ponce, the Font-Ubides House was designed by renowned Puerto Rican architect Blas Silva and built in 1913. The beautifully preserved building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and is a superb example of the Ponce Creole architectural style Silva created by blending the curves of Art Nouveau with Neo-classicism. With his pioneering architectural style, Blas Silva was much sought after by the so-called nouveau riche (newly rich) class of the time. This social class generally consisted of people who had created their wealth through various ventures, as opposed to those who came from families who had been wealthy for generations. The nouveau riche were more inclined to displays of ostentatious living and as the most established of the designers referred to as ‘wedding-cake’ architects – a reference to the intricate embellishments on their buildings – a number of Silva’s creations are prominent features in the city, including the Subira Residence and Salazar Candal House which houses the Museum of the History of Ponce.
Also known as the Monsanto Residence, the Font-Ubides House stands out as architecturally unique among the city’s historic buildings in a number of ways. Plastered masonry is topped with skillfully crafted stone masonry, with the abundance of ornamentation as a testament to the ‘wedding-cake’ style of the building. The incorporation of rounded forms in the raised verandah along the front façade of the building is a break from tradition, with the front steps of the house leading directly to the sidewalk. The three bays of the façade consist of four Corinthian columns mounted upon pedestals and arranged in a three quarter circle plan, with wrought iron railings spanning between the pedestals. A cornice with parapet and a festooned frieze are supported by each of the columns and Roman amphorae are located above the parapets.
A narrow arched doorway with carved wooden double-doors, featuring art nouveau wrought iron panels, serves as the entrance to the house and leads to a long, narrow hallway with parlors and bedrooms leading off on either side. At the end of the hallway is a spacious dining room, with a kitchen to the left and a terrace stretching along the rear of the house. A cast-iron spiral staircase leads to the upper level balcony. Notable interior decorations include decorative pressed-metal ceilings, ceramic tiled floors, carved wood fanlights and biblical motifs.
The Ponce historic zone is popular with tourists as it is home to a number of other interesting tourist attractions in addition to the Font-Ubides House. These include the Parque de Bombas, Museum of Puerto Rican Architecture and the Cathedral Nuestra Senora de la Guadalupe.