Just for a moment, we go back to the year 1884, to the area where the Almagro neighborhood is currently. A place named this way thanks to the hull of a country house that belonged to Don Juan María de Almagro, a former Spanish official who acted in the viceroyalties and who later settled in that territory. Now let's go more precisely to what the intersection of Av. Rivadavia and Medrano is today. At that time, Rivadavia Avenue was a cart path, which linked the Plaza de Mayo to the far west towards Flores. During the yellow fever epidemic in 1870, the distinguished class sought refuge in the high areas, including Flores, linked to the city by the Western Railway. In 1876 the Anglo Argentina company built one of the first horse-drawn trams on that Rivadavia street. A great period of economic prosperity was emerging that produced an enormous expansion of the city and its surroundings. Buenos Aires stopped being a “great village.” But the corner of Medrano and Av. Rivadavia was still a place a little far from the incipient urban center, although it was only four kilometers from the Plaza de Mayo.
Surprisingly, at that intersection a confectionery is installed, with exquisite details of refined distinction in the Belle Époque style. Its interior had an elegant and luxurious decoration, made with wooden paneling, chandeliers with chandeliers, the façade and tables with Carrara marble, with golden chandeliers and Italian marble floors. And it is said that even the chairs and tables would have been brought from Paris. Its owners were Felman and Rodríguez Acal.
At that time, other important changes were planned, such as the construction of the basement and the construction of the upper floors. It was undoubtedly a great work, but the complicated crisis of 1929, which severely affected the world economy, dragged its owners to an extreme situation. Since they could not pay the mortgage loan that had been taken out to carry out the modifications. The property was auctioned in 1933 and passed into the hands of Mateo Figallo and his family. And the confectionery continued to operate in all its splendor.
Countless figures have passed through its tables, such as the great tango composer Pascual Contursi, the writer Roberto Arlt, his colleague Alfonsina Storni and the jockey Irineo Leguisamo, who were regular customers. The historian Félix Luna and Dr. Arturo Frondizi, and many other personalities to this day, also attended.
In its spacious living room, some scenes from films such as La Maffia, by Leopoldo Torre Nilsson, and Autumn Sun, by David Kohn, were filmed.
In 1984, “Las Violetas” was recognized by the City Museum as "Living testimony of citizen memory" and was classified as a "notable confectionery" by the respective Commission.
On June 30, 1998, it closed its doors with a sign on the door that said “closing for balance,” and what seemed like a temporary closure was definitive. Given the strong complaints from neighbors and the historical value of this place, the Municipality sanctioned Law 49 declaring the “Las Violetas” Confectionery as a Site of Cultural Interest, and also sanctioned another law with its classification as a Historical Protection Area (APH).
Three years later, on July 19, 2001, completely restored with all its splendor of yesteryear, and with new owners, it opened its doors again. It was a great reopening expected by the entire Buenos Aires community.
Every corner of this historic candy store has become the property of its visitors, each one has their special memory in Las Violetas. Place that has been and continues to be a center of meetings and cultural movements. Many visitors continue to admire its stained glass windows and architectural details, while enjoying its delicious snacks, its pastries and its gastronomy in general. Because every accessory or piece in this place is part of the Cultural Heritage of Buenos Aires.
The story goes that on the day of its inauguration, September 21, 1884, even Minister Carlos Pellegrini, future president of the country, was present at the place, transported by the tram, and accompanied by many of his distinguished friends.
It can be said that Almagro grew up around “Las Violetas”. Little by little, other stores and businesses began to open, and at the beginning of the century, the confectionery was included in a new and thriving shopping center, which he helped to form.
But a big change began to take shape in 1928, when the owners hired the virtuoso stained glass artist Antonio Estruch to assemble the stained glass windows with pieces brought from France. Estruch already had the experience of having made them for Café Tortoni.
References and Photographs: