National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior

National Register of Historic Places Program
Weekly Highlight: Residencia Luis Muñoz Marín
San Juan, Puerto Rico

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.

 

[photo] of highlighted propertyThis rural forest-like estate historic district was the residence of Luis Muñoz Marín from the 1940s until his death in 1980. Luis Muñoz Marín was the first Puerto Rican governor elected by the people. Luis Muñoz Marín is also called the “Father of Modern Puerto Rico,” a key figure in the development and implementation of Operation Commonwealth, Operation Bootstrap and Operation Serenity, one of the most revered leaders in Puerto Rico’s history, Luis Muñoz Marín is one of the most important political figures of the Americas in the Twentieth Century.

Previous to his tenure as the first home-rule governor, Muñoz Marín had a distinguished careers in journalism, as both a reporter and director of a newspaper, and political activism. After returning from the United States where he studied as a young man and adult, Muñoz Marín joined the Socialist Party and the Free Federation of Workers of Puerto Rico. Both groups were dedicated to fight against poverty and the inequality suffered by Puerto Ricans, causes that he fervently endorsed. He campaigned across Puerto Rico extensively and participated in workers strikes to better the conditions of workers. During the Great Depression Muñoz Marín and others popular figures effectively convinced President Roosevelt to extend the New Deal and other important efforts into Puerto Rico. All the meanwhile, Muñoz Marín and his associates were taking their political campaign to the next level and established the PPD, the Popular Democratic Party (Partido Popular Democrático), which won twenty-nine out of seventy-six municipalities in the following election. In the 1948 general elections, Luis Muñoz Marín became the first Puerto Rican governor elected by the popular vote. His election as Governor stood up against hunger, injustice, ignorance, sickness and oppression. By the 1950s, after the implementation of Operations Commonwealth and Bootstrap, an “economic miracle” was taking place in Puerto Rico; the Island was now a modern urban-industrial society.

The main house is made mostly of concrete, with the exception of wood doors and windows. One of the most impressive features is an L-shaped balcony accessible from the sizeable living area. The main house and office contain all the furniture, art, books and household items from the time Luis Muñoz Marín and his wife lived on the property. The library/personal office is another concrete building contributing to this historic property listing. The spaces in the library have all the period furniture, books and items of its owner on display just as he left them when he died. The library/personal office was built in 1965 along with an administrative office and archive building used mostly by Mr. Marín’s staff. Both buildings are significant because these were the spaces which Marín used to write his Memoirs and the other where important documents were first stored and organized. Down a short pathway is the bohío, built in 1948, where the family gathered for activities and important meeting with dignitaries where held. The bohío was expanded by the family many times over the years and even replaced when it was damaged by a fallen tree in 1998. Though the original bohío does not stand, the historical significance of this space is not lost. Today’s version is a rectangular wooden shed supported by five columns wide, six columns in length and two center columns. All beams and rafters are wood, the floor concrete patterns, and the ceiling is built with Palm tree foliage covered in zinc shingles.

NPS Cultural Resources Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

To see more photographs of this property go to our photostream on Flickr.

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