Written by Barb Anderson
In late February 2022, I traveled to Costa Rica for a vacation. While there, I noticed two particularly interesting and historic buildings: The Metallic Building (Escuela Buenaventura Corrales) in San Jose and Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes in Grecia. It was so interesting to see such detailed and intricate buildings made almost entirely out of steel. After my trip, I looked into both buildings a bit further. It would seem that after the success of the Eiffel Tower, it was thought that steel buildings would be the new way of construction, and these two buildings were a part of that trend. I’m sharing my travel photographs and a bit more information below.
The Metallic Building (Escuela Buenaventura Corrales)
In downtown San Jose, Costa Rica stands the all-steel structure called the Escuela Buenaventura Corrales (also known as the Metallic Building). After the Eiffel Tower’s construction made steel fabrication fashionable, the prefabricated steel plates were brought to Costa Rica from Belgium in 1888. It was inaugurated in 1896, becoming the first metal building in Central America. It has stood up well to earthquakes in its century-plus existence.
It was declared a “Relic of National Historical and Architectural Interest” of Costa Rica in 1980.
Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes
The Church of Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes (Our Lady of Mercy) in nearby Grecia, Costa Rica, is an all-steel church that was constructed from 1894 to 1897 after the original church was destroyed by an earthquake. As with the Metallic Building, the prefabricated steel plates were brought to Costa Rica from Belgium, where they were fabricated. The steel plates are riveted together. All of the assembly is steel, including the finishes, doors, ceilings, floors, window frames, stairs and roof drains. Today it is a national monument in the country.
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