Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Those three arches in the Plaza de España make quite the scenic spot in our island's capital city.

People often pose for photos right in front of them, especially the newlyweds from Japan.

As you can see from the pic taken in 1916, the arches were actually part of a building, now torn down. That building was called the Almacén. That word meant, at that time and in this context, a warehouse or storehouse. The government's goods coming in from abroad and from Tinian (where there was a government cattle ranch) were stored there.

The three arches were part of the Almacén built in 1799. They are thus 217 years old or so! They have survived time, weather and especially the American bombardment of Hagåtña in 1944.

The arches also survived the replacement in 1886 of the 1799 Almacén with a new one built that year by Spanish Governor Olive. Rather than get rid of the arches with everything else from the 1799 Almacén, he kept the arches and built the new Almacén around the old arches.

Those same arches survived yet another government decision in 1930 to get rid of the 1886 Almacén, since it was considered too dangerous of an old building. Enough earthquakes did enough damage to it that the government feared parts of the Almacén coud fall apart, injuring people. But when the Almacén was torn down, American Governor Bradley decided to keep the arches intact.

I guess people really did (do) like those arches.

The Almacén served more than one purpose; basically whatever the Governor thought any extra space could be used for.

It was used as a hospital and, during the early American period, the second floor as used as a school.

The top of the center arch is decorated by a Spanish seal.

So next time you pass those arches, think of the building that used to stand there for hundreds of years as a warehouse, hospital, school and a few other things.

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