Edificio José de Diego in Mayagüez – Historic Gem
More commonly referred to as the Rectoria, the Edificio José de Diego was constructed between 1913 and 1916 to serve as the Science department of the University of Puerto Rico campus in Mayagüez. In 1977 it was placed on the United States National Register of Historic Places, a directory run by the National Park Services of the US Department of the Interior, which assists property owners and special interest groups preserve buildings deemed to be of historic significance.
While not falling into any specific architectural style, but rather using elements from a range of styles, the stately building is aesthetically pleasing. A wide flight of steps leads up a grassy embankment to the main entrance, which is flanked by two pillars supporting a frieze with the name of the University on it. Balconies with pillared railings extend almost completely across the front of the ground and first floor of the building, and the clock tower stands at least another two floors in height above the main entrance, making it an easily recognizable landmark on the campus. In addition to administrative office, the building contains a library and nine lecture rooms.
The Rectoria was damaged in one of Puerto Rico’s worst natural disasters, the San Fermin earthquake in 1918, but was fully restored, and in 1921 the building was named in honor of José de Diego, the founder of the campus, and an influential figure in the history of Puerto Rico. Referred to as the “Father of the Puerto Rican Independence Movement”, José de Diego (1866-1918) was a journalist, statesman, poet and lawyer, who is most likely best remembered politically for being an outspoken advocate for the independence of Puerto Rico, first from Spain, and later from the United States. In literary circles, José de Diego was known as the “Father of the Modern Puerto Rican Poetry Movement” for his heartfelt poetic expressions. Following his death on 16 July 1918, de Diego was buried in San Juan. The Edificio José de Diego in Mayagüez remains as a reminder of his many contributions to Puerto Rican society and identity.