The history of this house begins in the Golden age. Although it is a little known fact, the house where the immortal Spanish writer Pedro Calderón de la Barca lived, wrote and died is located on Calle Mayor in Madrid, at current number 61, former number 4 of Calle de Platerías. It is about a house that the author of ‘The life is dream’ She inherited from her grandparents Diego González de Henao and Inés Riaño, since the latter linked her by testamentary to the patronage of a chaplaincy of the nearby church of El Salvador with the idea that the grandson who followed the priestly vocation would inherit it.
had a somewhat ‘intense’ youth, and not in precisely spiritual terms: it was excommunicated In his university stage, he had problems with the law for a homicide in a brawl, broke the closure of a convent, had a natural child with an unknown lady, was a military man in the War of Catalonia and some biographers point out that he was even a member of the mythical Thirds of Flanders.
The point is that in his fifties and while continuing his creative work, Calderón decided to settle down and embrace the priesthood. There are those who indicate that he did it in fact to achieve the economic stability that the house would provide him after a period of certain narrowness, but those who affirm such simplicity little and poorly know Calderón and his work. And he hasn’t seen the house either. The fact is that a Calderón already a priest took as his residence and place of literary creation Until the end of his days this humble house on Calle Mayor. It was a few meters from the Villa Square and the old church of El Salvador, where his remains initially rested and from where his bones began a journey of six transfers to the church of Los Dolores, where a research project from the CEU San Pablo University continues the search – paralyzed by the Covid-19- between the walls of the temple. But this is an other history.
It must be said that the house was about to be demolished around 1858, but the writer Innkeeper Romanos -that he could not save the house of Cervantes despite the intervention of Fernando VII– worked in his defense through a series of articles in the press that reached the ears of the queen Isabel II, who took action on the matter and got the paralysis ‘in extremis’. Some accounts indicate that the writer came to stand guard outside the house and that he personally stopped the demolition picket (‘El Museo Universal’, October 15, 1858). The fact is that the City Council ordered to paralyze the demolition and at the request of Innkeeper Romanos A commemorative plaque was placed the following year, too austere in the opinion of this writer and the comments of the time. The plaque, which can still be read, read: “In this house D. Pedro Calderón de la Barca lived and died.” The house was physically saved.
By mistake, some sources indicated that the house initially had two floors and that two more were added in the 19th century. But Felipe Picatoste He demonstrated in his ‘Homenaje a Calderón’ (1881), based on documents from Calderón’s descendants, that the house always had at least four floors. In addition, the map provided by F. Picatoste at the time is the exact one provided by the real estate agency that put it up for sale in 2021.
But what happened to its owners? After the death of Calderón in 1681 the house passed to descendants of Calderón de la Barca through Ana González de Henao – the writer’s cousin – and her husband Ramón Ladrón de Guevara. From this family it was bequeathed, through a nephew, to the Pinel family, future counts of Asalto, whose descendants owned the house until it was sold before the notary Guillermo Barquín for about three million pesetas on December 10, 1987 in the name of a joint family company, among others, by the then Count of Asalto and by Luis Morenés, according to what his daughter María Antonia Morenés told us, before passing away a few months ago, as well as Eduardo Boix, one of the buyers and still owner.
However, since the beginning of the 20th century, the famous cultural magazine ‘La Esfera’ (No. 1, 1914) claimed that this house had its logical destination: Calderón de la Barca House Museum. The magazine specifically said that “the Madrid Council (the first one obliged to do so) could have bought the house to transform it […] in something similar to what the English have done with their Shakespeare“, Also becoming” a universal Mecca where all the pilgrims of beauty went. ” But the magazine regretted that this was not done and that it was turned into a “most vulgar tenement house.”
What is your current situation? Unfortunately, the same as centuries ago. But with a difference: in 2021 the CEU Center for Spanish Cultural Heritage, linked to the CEU San Pablo University and the project to search for Calderón’s remains, created the CEU Calderón de la Barca Grant. The idea was to rent one of the properties so that a Calderon researcher could reside in it and thus allow time for the Madrid City Council to buy part of the property -still for sale- and move forward in the conversion of the entire property into a cultural and cultural center. future House Museum.
The municipal instances of Heritage have confirmed to us days ago that they will not finally be able to acquire this part of the property, while from the Community of Madrid they indicate difficulties to declare it Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC) since it does not keep the writer’s belongings. In our opinion, the Madrid City Council – «the first one obliged to do so» – should design a plan for the progressive acquisition and reconversion of the property, in collaboration with the Community of Madrid, which in turn should reconsider its refusal in light of the impending BIP declaration of the (also empty) house of Vicente Aleixandre, which would constitute an inadmissible comparative offense. It remains to appeal to the king, as an innkeeper, or to the minister Iceta.
Will we have in this 21st century Calderón de la Barca House Museum, or will we have to wait another century and other rulers? I do not want to be pessimistic, or allude to the already proverbial Spanish laziness in these matters, so let me conclude with an ellipsis this chapter of the epic and tragic farce of the house of Calderón….