Benidorm’s new house museum

BENIDORM is about to get a new museum.

An old house situated in Calle Tomas Ortuño will soon be opened to the public as a living museum.

The Council purchased the 19th century property in 1988, but have been unable to access it until now.

The old owners vested the house with the municipality on the basis that they had rights of occupancy.

This expired last year when an old lease terminated, and Benidorm was able to gain access to the treasure trove of historical memorabilia.

“The cost of restoration and running of the museum will not fall on taxpayers, as we have volunteers from the community,” said Eva Mayor, Benidorm’s councilor for culture.

Mayor was keen to emphasize this given the current economic climate and financial constraints suffered by Benidorm.

The last owner to reside in the property was the grandson of Vicente Lorca, a 19th century seafaring captain, who previous occupation is evidenced in the house with many artefacts that he would have brought back from his travels.

The house is easily recognized as it has a wooden beam fixed over its entrance door inscribed with the name Columbus, being the name of Captain Lorca’s ship, and the piece of wood being taken from that vessel.

The house was constructed over the 18th and 19th centuries, as can be seen from the style of the eaves.

Amongst the memorabilia which the council has inventoried and which will be going on display is, a portmanteau purchased in New York during the late 19th century, a bowler hat bought in New Orleans and shawl of early last century with oriental motifs, all likely mementos purchased by the Captain on his voyages.

As was the custom in olden times a house had areas that guests would not be invited into, and here in one such private area there still sits an old carving knife embedded in the wall of what would have be the main dining room, the master bedroom retains its original bed, wardrobe and washbasin, all in antique carved wood.

The house has two fireplaces to warm the entire two floors, and a closet from the 50’s, built in what was formerly the kitchen of the house.

Among the objects other found, are three trunks, one acquired in New York in the late 19th century, a portable bidet, a schoolbook of the College of Our Lady of Sorrows in 1924, a writing notebook, embroidered letters, different pieces of clothing with embroidery, hemstitching and embroidery, gloves, mirrors, rosaries, and old photographs.

Furthermore, the knobs of all doors are original, porcelain, like the racks of the house.

The schoolbook belonged to Maria Lorca, dating from the 1920s, when Benidorm’s population was around 4,000 people. Benidorm has recovered one of the cornerstones of its historical heritage.

The home known as the Garden of Columbus, and is looking to convert it into an ethnological museum. It is hoped that when open to the public the museum will provide an insight to residents and tourists of a Benidorm that no longers exists.

By Paul Deed

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