November 30, 2020

A Coruña completes the last step to claim ownership of Casa Cornide

A Coruña already has the report ready that will add more pressure on the Franco family and the properties that came into their hands irregularly during the dictatorship. After the coup initiated by the Pazo de Meirás ruling, which forces the dictator’s heirs to return the historic building to the public good, now the path continues with its eyes set on a unique construction that crowns one of the most charming squares in the old city of A Coruña, the Cornide House.

La Casa Cornide: the mansion in the old city of A Coruña turned into a bargain for the Francos

La Casa Cornide: the mansion in the old city of A Coruña turned into a bargain for the Francos

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The City Council has two open fronts: one that announced this summer, in full trial for the property of Meirás, to recover in the courts the property of the Casa Cornide and another, through the artistic route with the declaration of the building as Good of Cultural Interest (BIC), which would oblige the dictator’s heirs to open the house to visitors, among other demands for caring for the property. The local government has just received the external report with which it will initiate the administrative procedure to request that the Xunta de Galicia certify the listing of Casa Cornide as BIC. In it, nine professionals from the fields of art history, architecture, history, topography and the conservation of cultural assets define the characteristics of the building that make it a unique work that requires a figure of protection.

As a unicum architectural “the professor of Art History at the University of Santiago de Compostela Alfredo Vigo Trasancos, who dealt with the historical-artistic analysis of the building, describes it. The professor considers that the Gallic air with which the Casa Cornide was built,” late-baroque, cosmopolitan and French style “,” had hardly any precedent in Galicia “and highlights the curvature chosen by the unknown author of the building as a solution at the ends of the facades. These are curved closures that were not found in the community architecture and that were inspired by the bourgeois urban houses of France.

The report considers that the state of conservation of the building is good, although it has only been possible to examine the exterior since the Franco family has not authorized the experts to enter, who focus their interest on the staircase on the ground floor. Its interior was completely renovated in the sixties to convert the building, deteriorated by a period of neglect, into the residence that Franco and his wife, Carmen Polo, occasionally used when they were in A Coruña.

A conversion, carried out in two phases, paid with public money from the City Council of A Coruña, according to the documentation found, and of which little was known until this summer the Franco, coinciding with the trial on Meirás, decided put the property up for sale. Through the images of the real estate portal, Vigo Trasancos identifies stone door moldings that may come from remains of works from the conversion into Hostal dos Reis Católicos of the until then Royal Hospital of Santiago de Compostela and, by various documentation, it is known that The figures of the Cathedral’s Pórtico de la Gloria, which are in the possession of the Francos – and claimed by the Santiago City Council – were also deposited in this residence after the Pazo de Meirás burned down.

This historical-artistic report, to which has had access, is the missing leg for the city council to initiate the “pertinent legal actions” to recover the property of Casa Cornide after this summer the José Cornide Institute of Coruñeses Studies -which bears the name of the polygraph from A Coruña whose family built the building in question- made public the report, this time historical, which recounts the pirouettes performed by the town hall and the businessman, Count of Fenosa and promoter of the commission that delivered the Pazo from Meirás to the Franco, Pedro Barrié de la Maza, to satisfy Carmen Polo’s desire to have a residence in A Coruña that would not give her as much work to fine-tune as Meirás. In the presentation of this analysis coordinated by the historian Emilio Grandío, the mayor of the city, Inés Rey, assured that it would be “a matter of months” before the property claim began in the courts.

The documentation that will support this lawsuit tells the story of how a public good ends up in the hands of Carmen Polo after losing 13 times its value in a few days. After being the residence of the Cornide family, this unique building ran from the town hall to the cinema of a Catholic society at the end of the Civil War, in which it began a period of disuse until it was bought by the Ministry of Education in the 1940s. Then, the city council renewed its interest in Casa Cornide and convinced the central government to exchange properties: the stately building in the center for a plot in what, then, were the outskirts of the city.

This coincides with the wishes of Franco’s mayor Alfonso Molina, alderman from 1947 to 1958, for the Francs to spend more time in the city and less in Meirás, in the nearby municipality of Sada. “They came to the Pazo de Meirás if Franco came. But the dictator only did it on vacation. His wife, Carmen Polo, from Asturias, also shot for Galicia. But if she came alone, she would stay at the Hotel Embajador, in the center of A Coruña, now disappeared, ”explains Grandío. The system to change this was simple: the council put Casa Cornide up for auction, below its value of 344,000 pesetas, Barrié de la Maza bought it almost unopposed for 305,000 and gave it to Carmen Polo for 25,000 pesetas, with a previous step in which the council eliminated all the clauses on the bid that prevented changing the ownership of the newly acquired building.

A fraudulent maneuver and agreed by the family of the dictator and the government of the regime, as acknowledged in a letter dated in August 1962 by Franco’s personal secretary, Ricardo Catoira, to the then undersecretary of the Treasury, Juan Sánchez-Cortés y Dávila: “I have the pleasure to inform you that today the term for the auction of the famous house that His Excellency so desired so much has ended. Today the plenary session also meets to award it to a private individual and he will sell it to the Lady. This is how we have explained it to him. to His Excellency for being the best formula since in this way an award of goods that went from the State to the Caudillo himself is not made. ”

The public contribution for the benefit of the Francs did not end there. The municipal books include two more disbursements, of almost 180,000 and one million pesetas in the years 1963 and 1964 for the reform of the Casa Cornide, which already belonged to Carmen Polo. The dictator’s family divided the house into several apartments, with space for the service, and annexed a small plot that gave continuity to one of the sides of the building to enlarge it.


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