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Old San Juan Walls’ History To Be Investigated

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  • Old San Juan Walls’ History To Be Investigated

    Old San Juan Walls’ History To Be Investigated

    July 20, 2002
    Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS.
    All rights reserved.

    (AP) — The saying "if these walls could talk" was made valid Friday when Transportation and Public Works Secretary Jose Izquierdo announced a project that seeks to extract all the history that the city walls of Old San Juan can tell.

    The project is a historic documentation that will reveal, through the study of the walls’ materials, the restoration processes that were conducted during the past centuries.

    The goal is to make "a diagnosis of the conditions they are in so that we can then repair them," the secretary said.

    The walls were originally constructed of compressed mud and later fortified and restored with purposes that varied from military defense in the time of the Spanish and U.S. regimes to preservation in more recent times.

    The information yielded from the investigation will complement the history that has already been written, Izquierdo said.

    "But it will also establish the basis for the adequate restoration and conservation of the walls, which are unique in Latin America," he added.

    Only Cartagena de Indias in Colombia and La Habana in Cuba have similar constructions, although none have the dimensions of the walls in Old San Juan, said architect Telma Valenzuela of the Cultural Patrimony Office.

    The wall complex covers some 1,600 feet or 0.3 miles of cut stone and masonry, which date from the 17th century.

    The project announced Friday consists of four stages: an historic study and analysis of materials, the diagnosis of pathology that determines the internal and external conditions that affect the walls, the preparation of an intervention plan, and the designing of a management plan that will determine how the surface of the walls will be worked, Valenzuela said.

    Izquierdo said his department will initially invest some $218,370 in the project, although he warned that he has "no idea" of what the total cost will be.

    However, he did not rule out the possibility that later on he could obtain federal and international funds since the walls were declared Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO and are included in the Historic Places Registry in Washington D.C.