Hacienda Labadie or Irurena was a prominent coffee plantation during the 19th century and a sugar mill at the beginning of the 20th century. It is located in Moca in western Puerto Rico, but its 1,262 acres of land also extended into the municipalities of Isabela, on the east, and Aguadilla, on the west.
The plantation belonged to three siblings of the Pellot family that came from the Basque region of Fuenterrabía, near the French-Spanish border. Back then, it was a coffee plantation known as Irurena, which in Basque means “three siblings”. In 1860, Juan Labadie bought the plantation from the Pellot siblings. After Labadie’s death, his widow, Cornelia Pellot, chose to demolish the wooden house and build one in concrete.
The Labadie house was designed by French engineer Paul Servajean in 1893; however, it was not built until 1905. Its architectural design —Second Empire Baroque— is a Caribbean adaptation of the chateau or French palace, a very popular style in Europe back then. Materials and construction style are proof of the transition period from masonry to reinforced concrete construction; therefore, its walls are thicker than what was technically necessary.
The two-story building had an “L”-shaped story raised over a podium which had oculus that allowed the structure to be ventilated. The façade’s design is symmetrical and had an elegant staircase at the entrance, a wrap-around balcony on both floors, and pavilions on the ends which had metal onion-cupola roofs that gave plasticity to the roof. The columns on the balcony were of lonic order and the balusters were made of wrought iron. The main doors, on both balconies, are decorated with molding and details inspired in nature. The doors on the second floor are framed with complex moldings decorated with rectangular panels and fleur-de-lis designs (a symbol of nobility). After the arrival of the U.S. in Puerto Rico, hacienda Labadie became a sugarcane colony in Central Coloso.
Hacienda Labadie is immortalized in Puerto Rican literature as Hacienda Palmeras, home of the Moreau family in the novel La llamarada (1935) by Enrique Laguerre, a Puerto Rican writer native of Moca. The Moreaus are based on the real residents of the plantation during the times in which the novel was written.
In 1993, a fire destroyed the structure; only the façade remained. That same year, the municipality of Moca bought the plantation. After restoring the structure, the plantation opened its doors in 1999, with the name of Palacete Los Moreau, in honor of the characters in Laguerre’s novel.
Adapted by Grupo Editorial EPR
Original source: Property Catalog, National Register of Historic Places, State Historic Preservation Office, Office of the Governor, 1995.
Autor: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: December 30, 2009.
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