The Edificio Kavanagh in the Retiro neighbourhood of Buenos Aires is ostensibly a monument to the wrath of a scorned woman. And a reminder that you mess with a woman, especially one of means, at your own risk!
Corina Kavanagh, an Irish heiress, fell in love with Aaron, the heir to the Anchorena family, whose grand palace* and private church could be seen arrayed around the beautiful Plaza San Martin. The two hoped to marry, but Mercedes Castellanos de Anchorena deemed the nouveau rich, protestant bloodline of the Kavanagh family unworthy of her son and forbade the union. The son obviously had no say in the matter.
An infuriated Corina vowed to avenge the humiliation. When the opportunity arose, she outbid Mercedes for the narrow, sloping plot of land in front of the church of the Holy Sacrament, that the Anchorenas had been planning to build a new mansion on, to be even closer to their church and crypt.
Corina then entrusted her architects – the renowned Sánchez, Lagos and de La Torre – with a single brief: to erect a building tall enough to completely obscure the church from the Anchorena palace! Going to the extent of selling two of her estancias to finance the extravagant project!
For an edifice conceived out of so much acrimony this 120 meter, 32 story luxury apartment complex is a remarkable piece of architecture, that has remained an iconic symbol of Buenos Aires! Built in 1934 (when Corina was barely 39) in the Rationalist style characterized by an economy of form and a lack of ornamentation, this was one of the world’s first reinforced concrete skyscrapers. One of the first with central air-conditioning and state of the art plumbing and for many years the tallest building in South America! Its 105 exclusive apartments are apparently still coveted and it was deemed a National Heritage in 1999.
Corina retained the largest apartment that stretched across the entire 14th floor, where she lived until 1984, possibly reveling in the fact that Mercedes Anchorena would forever lie in the crypt of the Church of the Holy Sacrament in the perpetual shadow of the looming skyscraper that bore the Kavanagh name.
[That is the legend and most guides will swear by it. But they fail to mention one simple fact. Mercedes Anchorena died in 1920!! We visited her crypt under that beautiful church on the Corina Kavanagh street]
* Some accounts suggest it was Corina’s daughter who had an affair with Aaron Anchorena.
* The Anchorena Palace is now the office of the Ministry of Foreign Relations.
52 thoughts on “Edificio Kavanagh”
Wow such history or story behind a beautiful building
And I am such a sucker for these legends Boomie 🙂 Thanks for dropping by!
Something doesn’t quite add up there, Madhu. Great story though. 🙂 That apartment block is certainly very imposing.
Lovely isn’t it? Shows what a creative architect can achieve in the most difficult of sites! That strip of land is really narrow!
A wonderful photo of this building. The story may or may not be accurate but it sure adds charm to the history of the building. I’m for it being true. Don’t mess with a woman’s heart. Thanks for sharing this delightful post.
BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!
Glad you enjoyed this dark romance Francine 🙂
It’s quite a story whether it’s true or not. Thanks for sharing.
Thank YOU for reading 🙂
What a fascinating story and you tell them so well Madhu!
Ah, lovely to hear you say that 🙂 Thank you LuAnn!
Lovely post Madhu, Very informative indeed..
Thank you for the visit and comment!
Great story. I wouldn’t worry about the fact checking aspect – it doesn’t change my interest in the building. I’d love to see those apartments! Thanks for sharing.
Mine either….In fact I think the story adds even more appeal! Thanks for the visit and for leading me to your lovely blog 🙂
While I was busy looking at the ombu tree in the Plaza you were learning all this! Ah, well – great post.
But the Ombu tree was not in bloom Lynne, or I would have got distracted too 🙂
🙂 I would have been most strange if we had been there at the same time, back to back, shooting shots.
When did you go? We were there in October 2011
Ooooh, what a sordid and exciting tale. A remarkable and magnificent building ahead of its time in design and execution. You always bestow on us wonderful things we might not have heard of or ever get to see up close! Simply wonderful ;o)
Glad you enjoyed my sordid saga Sahbina 🙂
Thought it had appeal Frizz, even if I wasn’t sure if it was true 😀
Ha! Ingenious. I have never met the woman and I admire her and her towering building immensely already 😀
Hugely entertaining post, Madhu!
Don’t think my male readers are very impressed though. Thank you Kate 😀
What a tale… Would be fun to see the luxury apartment complex.
Unfortunately you are only allowed a peek into the lavish lobby if the security guard is in the mood to let you. They should put one apartment on show, but with real estate prices being what they are, I guess it wouldn’t be practical 🙂
What a fascinating story Madhu. the building doesn’t look that old, it must have looked ultra modern when it was built.
If the guy wasn’t prepared to fight for her he didn’t deserve her anyway, she was better off without him 😉
Absolutely agree with you Gilly 🙂
Great story of two women who would not have been able to share the same space or air they breathe in if there was such a marriage. Can you see that weak husband between the two? What vision and what a building.
Smart lady and ahead of her times I guess. That Anchorena boy missed out big time 🙂
Wonderful, I love photos telling stories – and what a story here…. 😉
Great shot too… 😉
Glad you enjoyed my little tale Ledrake 🙂
really really nice post and beautiful images! thanks, z
Oh, Lisa that is very nice of you 🙂 Catching up with all my past posts as you can see!
You had me hook, line and sinker! Whether true it not, it is a most entertaining story, and believable, channeling anger can be so powerful!
And no doubt oh so satisfying 😀 Glad you enjoyed it Elisa
Wow Madhu, what I yarn and I presume it is a true one.
The world knows of the immortal love that made Emperor Shah Jahan build the timeless Taj Mahal. With your post, the world now can reckon with the timeless hate that made Corina build this monstrosity.
Indeed, Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
At once fell in love with your post.
I actually like the building Shakti! I am as much a fan of Art Deco structures as I am of the Taj MAhal 🙂 Glad you enjoyed this, happy to see you around.
The story may be an urban myth, but it has the passion one would expect of Buenos Aires! Seems it was a pretty good investment, too. 🙂
Seems like it, we were told it is still a very sought after address! Thanks TWLG
Really, really interesting. It’s amazing what stories are behind some structures. I love the quote as the opener for this post. Very fitting.
Delighted that you found this story interesting Fergie 🙂
I like your resume:
“don’t mess with a woman,
especially one of means,
it’s your own risk!”
Any doubts Frizz? 😀
That adage, hell hath no fury like a woman scored, is true. Whether the story is fact of fiction, it’s a compelling story.
I hope for Corina’s sake that she didn’t spent too much time mourning the loss caused by a boyfriend who would not stand up for her against all odds. Or in plotting revenge. The latter hurts the person doing the action far more than any one else.
You are right of course, and i doubt I would have wasted time over that wimp, but revenge must have been immensely satisfying as well 🙂
Guides like making up stories, or are taught that way… many innocent stories become urban legends.. it would not surprise me that a woman of means would take her revenge to such extent, but then she would have to live with the reminder of her revenge … and the source of her pain for the rest of her life… I don’t see anything cathartic in that… revenge debases the soul, it’s better to let go…. sorry for this rambling Madhu. I love your post, very interesting and very informative. I was not acquainted with that celebrated building or with how it came to life 🙂
I know what you mean Paula, revenge is never good however satisfying it is. But makes me feel good to read about the underdog, especially women giving it back 🙂
Hi Madhu, I always say that the story’s the thing, and this is a good one! Thanks for sharing it, and the photo is a perfect illustration!
I knew the storyteller in you would relate to this 🙂 Thanks Naomi
Love the trees in that first pic!