THE PORTUGUESE BRAZILIAN BENEFICENT ASSOCIATION

Hi, everyone! I write today about a building that was claiming attention for a long time, and whose rich decoration, as for shyness, was hidden in the chromatic sameness of its façade. To our surprise, the building has just gained a new vividly colored painting, especially in a predominant strong orange. It is the headquarters of the Portuguese Brazilian Beneficent Association, at 100, Lavradio Street, housing these days in its ground floor the Demi-Glace Restaurant – a very good one, by the way.

Formerly baptized as Paulo Barreto Portuguese Brazilian Center[1], the institution was founded in 1880, but until the first quarter of the twentieth century it didn´t have a decent address to properly receive its affiliates and perform its charity activities. On October 9th, 1926, the A Noite newspaper published the plan of a building signed by Italian architect Ricardo Buffa, transforming the poor eighteenth-century sobrado into a “new and astonishing edifice”, in the paper own words.[2]

It seems that Buffa was really an appreciator of the griffin´s mythological protection, the fantastic animal with the head of an eagle and the body of a lion. His own residence, designed by him at 108 Hermenegildo de Barros Street, is kept by two of them. In the specific case of our Lavradio Street building, the use of the griffin is very appropriate, since the griffin, as the only animal that has its feet on the ground, like the lion, and its arms on the sky, like the eagle, has a deep association in Christian Symbolism with the figure of the Christ Himself.

The Portuguese builder Joaquim da Silva Cardoso was responsible for the construction, finally built in 1927.

The “design” by architect Buffa published in 1926 by the A Noite newspaper, where we can easily read the former name of the institution – PAULO BARRETO PORTUGUESE BRAZILIAN CENTER.

The paper depicts some images of the building´s interior, here reproduced. Unfortunately, like 9 among 10 interiors in town, it does not exist anymore.

The elegant staircase.
The Paulo Barreto Portuguese Brazilian Center´s Hall of Honor.
The dome skylight had a stained glass depicting a Portuguese caravel with the Order of Christ Cross printed on its sails.

Below are some images after the façade´s restoration. Click to see them on full screen.


[1] For those who may not know, the Wikipedia explains: Paulo Barreto is the real name of the famous João do Rio. A carioca journalist, chronicler, translator and playwright, João Paulo Emílio Cristóvão dos Santos Coelho Barreto was born on August 5th, 1881 and died on June 23rd, 1921.

[2] Buffa, very talented with a pen, may have probably adapted a photograph of the current building to spread his design.

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