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Eight of Escolta’s most beautiful and historic buildings | MyProperty.ph
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Eight of Escolta’s most beautiful and historic buildings

by Jillian CariolaPublished: May 18, 2017Updated: May 23, 2017

While often seen as a declining part of Binondo, Escolta has never been more alive with these historically relevant architectural wonders.

Beautiful historic buildings of Escolta Binondo MyProperty Philippines Don Roman Santos

For years, Escolta was undisputably the “Queen of Manila Streets,” a lane flanked by Art Deco, Beaux Arts, and Neoclassical structures housing commercial establishments that made the business district thrive for years. Established in downtown Binondo in 1594, Escolta was lauded for its role as Manila’s center of global and local commerce.

Escolta boasts many firsts: it had the very first elevator in the Philippines; the first savings bank in the country, Monte de Piedad, was located here; this street was also home to Clarke’s, the Philippines’ first ice cream parlor; and the first tranvia (electric street tram) in the country moved through Escolta as well.

But as companies began uprooting their businesses to move to flourishing areas such as Makati in the 1960s, Escolta’s fame gradually slowed down. While the historic and artistic buildings remain standing and some shops are still operating, Escolta never did recapture its once lively nature. That is, until now, when various groups of passionate historians and culture aficionados have stepped up to voice out their desire for its revival.

In an interview with Philippine Daily Inquirer, Escolta Revival Movement head Romel Leal Santiago said of stimulating the once vibrant street: “Its anticipated revitalization may boost the morale of Filipinos because it will prove to us that it’s not yet too late to love, value, protect and maintain the treasures of our past. The next generation will continue to tell the story of what was once the central business district and the true repository of economic greatness in the Philippines.”

To anyone visiting Escolta, the imposing buildings are the first to grab your attention due to their aesthetically impressive nature and historical significance. If you are planning to stop by the famed street soon, here is a rundown some of the most awe-inspiring buildings to see.

 

Beautiful historic buildings of Escolta Binondo MyProperty Philippines Regina
Regina Building. Photo by Ryomaandres via Wikimedia Commons

Regina Building

A Neoclassical and beaux-arts structure built in 1934, the Regina Building—formerly the Roxas Building—was designed by Philippine artist Juan Luna’s son, Andrés Luna de San Pedro. Found at the corner of Escolta and Calle David, the building was once home mostly to insurance companies like Provident Insurance Corporation and National Life Insurance Company, but it is now currently housing various freight forwarding companies.

 

Beautiful historic buildings of Escolta Binondo MyProperty Philippines Don Roman Santos
Don Roman Santos Building. Photo by Toby Roca via Wikimedia Commons

Don Roman Santos Building

A great example of Neoclassical architecture is the Don Roman Santos Building, which boasts a façade with intricate carvings and columns. Built in 1894, it was the original office of Monte de Piedad Savings Bank until 1937, and was also a hospital operated by the American Red Cross in 1945. Formerly owned by Prudential Bank, its present occupant is Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) after the latter acquired the former.

 

Beautiful historic buildings of Escolta Binondo MyProperty Philippines Capitol Theater
Capitol Theater. Photo by Judgefloro via Wikimedia Commons

Capitol Theater

Juan Nakpil, a National Artist for Architecture, was responsible for designing the art deco-style Capitol Theater. Built in the 1930s, the theater was considered unique in its time due to its double balcony, which was air conditioned and could seat 800 people. Another striking feature is the set of figures in front of the theater: designed by Italian sculptor Francesco Riccardo Monti, they show two Filipina muses clad in traditional native dresses.

 

Beautiful historic buildings of Escolta Binondo MyProperty Philippines Burke
Burke Building. Photo by Judgefloro via Wikimedia Commons

Burke Building

Built in the 1920s at the corner of Escolta and Burke, the historic Burke Building is named after American politician, businessman, and philanthropist William J. Burke, and was the location of the aforementioned first elevator. It underwent major remodeling after surviving the Second World War.

 

Beautiful historic buildings of Escolta Binondo MyProperty Philippines Calvo
Calvo Building. Photo by Judgefloro via Wikimedia Commons

Calvo Building

The beaux-arts structure was designed by Fernando Ocampo and built by Edificio Calvo. Built in 1938, at the corner of Escolta and Soda, this building was the home of the first studio of radio station DZBB until 1957 before moving to Quezon City. It currently holds the Calvo Museum, where various historical memorabilia about Old Manila are on display, such as newspapers, movie posters, and music sheets.

 

Beautiful historic buildings of Escolta Binondo MyProperty Philippines Natividad Teoff Center
Teoff Center - Ryomaandres via Wikimedia Commons

Teoff Center

Formerly the Natividad Building and also known as the Gaches Building, the Teoff Center was designed by Philippine-born Spanish architect Fernando de la Cantera Blondeau. This beaux-arts building was the former headquarters of the Philippine Insurance Commission in the 1950s as well as that of the Philippine Education Company. It was lucky enough to have been spared from damage during the Battle of Manila in 1945, only needing minor repairs after World War II.

 

Beautiful historic buildings of Escolta Binondo MyProperty Philippines El Hogar
El Hogar Building. Photo by Ramiltibayan via Wikimedia Commons

El Hogar Filipino Building

Found at the corner of Juan Luna Street and Muelle de Industria is the Neoclassical and Renaissance-styled El Hogar Filipino Building in 1914 and designed by Ramon Irureta-Goyena and Francisco Perez-Muñoz. It was constructed as a present from Spanish businessman Antonio Melian y Pavia to his wife Margarita Zóbel de Ayala. A few years ago, El Hogar was under the threat of demolition when the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) stepped in. NHCP also attempted to purchase the building for revival but failed to do so, making the future of the structure uncertain.

 

Beautiful historic buildings of Escolta Binondo MyProperty Philippines First United
First United Building. Photo by Ramon FVelasquez via Wikimedia Commons

First United Building

Also known as the Perez-Samanilla Building, the art deco-style First United was completed in 1928 and is another design by de San Pedro. Its previous occupants include the Manila Post office and the Berg’s Department Store, as well as the foreign consulates of France and Panama. It is currently home to 98B COLLABoratory, an artist-run initiative and one of the organizations campaigning for Escolta’s revival.


Sources: inquirer.net, arquitecturamanila.blogspotcom, spot.ph, gmanetwork.com, thefilipinas.blogspot.com, businessmirror.com.ph

 

Main photo by Toby Roca via Wikimedia Commons

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