The Street Of Antique Dealers

79B Street, a narrow, steep road that climbs from Race 9 to the east, or descends from Race 7 to the west, in the Bogota neighborhood of El Nogal, a few years ago became Calle de los Anticuarios and became attractive not only for collectors, but also for walkers and tourists.

All because antique businesses prospered in the area, in the same way that, due to that particularity of Bogotá, there are zones of electrical goods stores, zones of bicycle stores, zones of furniture stores, zones of lamp sales, zones of spare parts stores, zones of opticians; zones of musical instruments and many other specialties.

But that particular road, without sidewalks but with trees on either side, was once a quiet neighborhood street and much earlier was part of a family farm linked to the history of the republic and illustrious surnames.

Without going very far, before its current attractiveness – the antique dealers – 79B was a street that detached from the chapel of Santa María de los Ángeles or that ended when passing by the small church that belonged to the Holguín, a family in which there were presidents, linguists, musicians, painters, writers, philosophers and diplomats.

It was precisely in this place where the ancestral home of Don Carlos Holguín, president at the end of the century -as were his brother Jorge and his brother-in-law Miguel Antonio Caro- and his wife Margarita. The chapel was built thanks to Margarita Holguín and Caro at one end of the road, where the residences of other holguines gradually emerged.

The small chapel was built in 1920 and in 1948 the family entrusted it to the care of the Augustinian brothers. (1)

The temple of small invoice has cruciform plant and in the ends are the tombs of Carlos Holguín and Margarita Caro de Holguín. Carlos Holguín Mallarino (1832-1894) was president of the Republic between 1888-1892.

Daniel Arango shows some brushstrokes that serve to sketch the history of Bogota’s street. He remembers his friendship with the poet and humanist Andrés Holguín, whom we met and admired as a teenager. Arango says that in the semi-private street that started behind Santa María de los Ángeles some of the Holguín resided, which is why friends called this place ‘Holguinópolis’. (2)

The little church, which was fashionable for married couples for years, keeps memories of the donor family like the canvas of the altar, which shows the Virgin and St. Joseph looking at the child and protected by angels in a straw shed, with a flock at their feet. That painting is the work of the painter and sculptor Margarita Holguín y Caro, daughter of the president, born in 1875 and died in 1959.

The area was consolidated in the 1940s and 1950s and in 1953 the chapel became the Parish of Santa Monica, although it is known by the other name.

With a few exceptions, the houses on 79B remain almost unchanged in 2015. And we suppose that there have not been few pressures to demolish them and fill that slope of the antique dealers of apartment towers, as it already happened two and three decades ago in the street of the north and the one of the south that frame this cachaquísimo place.

On the side and side of the road, on a 300-metre route, there are three restaurants – one of which becomes a bar at night -, an art gallery, a real estate agency, a hairdressing salon, a decoration business, a kindergarten, a fine paper shop, a children’s gift shop, a women’s clothing shop, a baby clothes shop and several professional offices.

There are, of course, antique dealers, only two family houses survive and one of the houses is the priest’s house of Santa Monica.

On one side, in front of the 7th is the residence building of the Augustinians who run the parish, who are the same people who run the Liceo de Cervantes El Retiro, four blocks to the north.

Although the area is protected by urban conservation norms, at least three properties have been transformed and one is under construction.

Most of the buildings on 79B between 7th and 9th are registered as Properties of Cultural Interest at the District Level. This does not prevent that some of the properties have been excluded, demolished or altered.

Alfonso Guzmán Pinto, architect and president of the Association of Antique Dealers of Colombia, told me that “in heyday times there were 20 antique dealers. Now there are eight.

Guzmán, who has had his antique shop on 79B for 25 years, remembers that the first antique shop there was that of sisters Julia and Belén Casas, more than three decades ago.

He added that the interesting thing is that around the antique dealers came other types of establishments, such as restaurants and art galleries.

Currently the pavement of the street is quite deteriorated, which is not uncommon in Bogota in recent years. But regardless of class visions, the area should deserve the attention of the authorities.

Sandra R. Robinson

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