Skeleton Buildings

While I was considering Pont de St. Benezet or the ruined bridge of Avignon, it got me thinking about other ruined buildings. I’m not talking about ancient temples or edifices of the Greeks or Romans, etc. I am thinking more of buildings that are in ruins but have the basic structure of the building present, like a skeleton. I’m going to call them skeleton buildings.  There are three such buildings that come to mind.

The first ruined building is Carmo Convent in Lisbon, Portugal. It was a medieval convent that was ruined in the terrible earthquake of 1755. The roof was intentionally not restored but the skeleton of the walls and roof remain. So you have the incredible of seeing pale white stone soaring up into the bright blue sky. It’s simply marvelous to behold. Now, it houses the Carmo Archeological Museum with artifacts from all over Portugal set into its walls. The collection is interesting since the museum explains that they saved these artifacts through Portugal that were in danger. This of course brings to mind the whole center/periphery dilemma and wonder how much of the artifacts were actually saved and how many were taken. Regardless, it’s probably one of the most astounding buildings I’ve seen.

Elisa Shoenberger (@) 2007
Elisa Shoenberger (@) 2007

The next building is Ruins Park, next to Museu Chacara de Ceu in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is located in the neighborhood of Santa Teresa, famous for its trolley car, which is located on top of a large hill in Rio. In Ruins Park, there is a skeleton of a huge mansion once owned by art patron and heiress Laurinda Santos Lobo who was nicknamed “the woman of a thousand dresses.” The mansion isn’t very old; it was built in 1907. Allegedly, when she moved in, she renovated it to include: ”ix living rooms, three salons, four bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen, a pantry, two breakfast rooms, a sewing room, a lookout point, a chapel, and three bedrooms for servants.”  Because of the tram car, many artists began moving in. Laurinda Santos Lobo began holding salons (my kind of lady). She also helped artist Heitor Villa Lobos with his career in Paris. She died in 1946 and the house eventually would be looted and invaded until it was refashioned into a park.

Now, It’s a delightful combination of metal beams and brick walls, a few open windows and some art installations. It is a cultural center that hosts exhibitions and films but the building is magnificent itself. There is also a little café (but I cannot attest to how good it is since I did not partake of it). Also you get a very nice view of downtown Rio.

Elisa Shoenberger (c) 2013
Elisa Shoenberger (c) 2013

The final building (so far) is the former Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Pilsen at 19th and Peoria street. There is a beautiful tower and front facade with no back building. It’s quite jarring at first. It looks like there should be a building behind the tower but it isn’t there. Rick Kogan wrote an article in 2000 about it but I’ll summarize. The church was founded in 1850 but the building is probably from 1880. At some point, it was closed and in 1979, there was a fire that devastated it, taking the roof, most of the walls and more. In 1998, a wind storm took the remaining walls. A local man, John Podmajersky decided to buy the property to save it.

When we ran into it in 2013, it was still there. There was a sculpture of Jesus on the cross but it looked stitched together from various found objects like a mannequin hand. The foundations peak up from the grass before the tower. It’s actually rather eerie.

Elisa Shoenberger (c) 2013
Elisa Shoenberger (c) 2013

Anyway, that’s all for now. Here’s adventuring!


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