Republica 208, Camaguey Cuba

República 208
Camagüey, Cuba
(Also known as República 57 before the street number change)
Martínez y Martínez Residence From 1905 Until 1966
The six Martínez Rodríguez children were born and raised in this house

1–4. Central courtyard and galleries; Façade

5. View of courtyard from the azotea, the flat portion of the roof over the gallaries, looking towards the rear of the house.

6. Natalia, Elia Maria, Ofelia, Joaquín Ventura and Juan Antonio Martínez Rodríguez
This picture was taken in 1946.

7. Mariana Martínez Rodríguez (1926–2014)

8. Elia María Martínez Rodríguez (b. 1930)

9. Ofelia Martínez Rodríguez (b. 1931). Behind her are the spanish-glass windows and shutters of the portal (portico).

10. Juan Antonio Martínez Rodríguez (1943–2000)

11. Juan Antonio and Natalia Martínez Rodríguez (b. 1944)

12. Joaquín Ventura Martínez y Martínez (1898–1987)

13. Mariana Martínez Rodríguez and her cousin Josefina "Fina" Martínez Alvarez, on the terra-cotta roof tiles.
14. Joaquín Ventura Martínez Rodríguez (b. 1934) on the balustrade overlooking the courtyard.


15. Lola Prats Martínez (b. 1955), María López Martínez (b. 1955)

16. Elia Rodríguez Casas (1904–1982) and her husband Joaquín Martínez y Martínez
with grandchildren José Joaquín Prats Martínez (b. 1952), María López Martínez (b. 1955), Elia Margarita Prats (b. 1953) Martínez, Lola Prats Martínez (b. 1955), Benito Prats Martínez (b. 1954). Behind them the portico can be seen because the shutters are open.

17. María López Martínez, Bertha Rodríguez Hernández, Lola Prats Martínez
First Communion May 24, 1961.

18. Araceli "Celita" Rodríguez Casas (1889-1960) holding Natalia Martínez Rodríguez
19. Mariana Martínez Rodríguez and her cousin Josefina Martínez Alvarez 20. Concha del Risco, Venturita's nanny,is in the back. In front of her are Alicia Martínez Alvarez, Ofelia Martínez Rodríguez, Elia María Martínez Rodríguez and Josefina Martínez Alvarez. In front of Ofelia is Joaquín Ventura Martínez Rodríguez, known as "Venturita." Alfredo Salvador Rodríguez, a cousin, is in front.

21. Elia María, Mariana, and Ofelia Martínez Rodríguez 22. Mariana Martínez Rodríguez behind the cannas flowering in the courtyard.

23. Juan Antonio Martínez Rodríguez behind his sister Natalia. 24. Mariana Martínez Rodríguez some 17 years earlier taking in the sun on a cold day.

25. This is the house cat that taught himself to use the toilet. It was not uncommon to find him spread-eagled on the toilet seat doing his business. 26. Elia Margarita and Benito Prats Martínez


27. Benito Prats Respall (1918–2013) and his wife Mariana Martínez Rodríguez; with her mother, uncle and father Elia Rodríguez Casas, Antonio Ricardo (1905–1982) and Joaquín Ventura Martínez y Martínez
and her nephew Miguel Lopéz Martínez, daughter Angela Prats Martínez (b. 1959), nephew Miguel López Martínez, son Ignacio Prats Martínez (b. 1958), and niece María López Martínez

28. Juan Antonio Martínez Rodríguez in the sala (parlor). You can see into the library through the doorway.

29. Francisca Martínez Seijas (1875–1964)

30. Francisca Martínez Seijas in the portal (portico). She was known as "Panchita" and read two newspapesr cover-to-cover every day: the local El Camagüeyano and the Shipping News. The third generation called her "Patita." Tía Menina in her rocking chair is in the background on the right.

31. Mercedes Martínez Diaz (1865–1965) held court on the portico and ran the household every day, all day, from this chair. She was called "Menina" by everyone until the third generation came along. They called her "Mimí". La Costurera, a woman who came by once a week to sew and darn, can be seen behind the other rocking chair on the right.

32. Menina with her great-grand niece Mariana Lola Prats Martínez.
33. Menina having her merienda (afternoon snack) some years before.
Here is an alternate picture.

34. Menina holding Mariana Lola Prats Martínez with José Prats Martínez, Elia Margarita Prats Martínez (playing with a veil on her face), and their mother Mariana Martínez Rodríguez. 35. Elia María Martínez Rodríguez in Menina's chair in the portico. She says she did not stay there long! Menina took pity on her because her leg hurt (notice the bandage) but someone shooed her way shortly after the picture was taken. Nobody else sits in Menina's chair!

36. Rufina Pereira (1874–1969) paternal great grandmother to the children in this photograph is seated on the left next to Menina. Panchita is standing and Mariana Martínez is on the right. Mariana Lola Prats Martínez, just baptized, is on Menina's lap. Her siblings are José, Elia Margarita, and Benito. 37. Manuel López Blanco (1928–2012) holding his daughter Araceli López Martínez (b. 1963), with two of her brothers José Luis (b. 1960) and Carlos (with back to camera).


38. Elia Rodríguez Casas and her son Juan Antonio Martínez Rodríguez. Tía Patita is in the background, at the kitchen entrance.

39. Josefina Martínez Alvarez, Mariana Martínez Rodríguez, Elia María Martínez Rodríguez
Margarita Suares Martínez, Mercedes Martínez Diaz, Dulce Maria Martínez Alvarez
Alicia Martínez Alvarez, Joaquín Ventura Martinez Rodríguez, Ofelia Martínez Rodríguez
The door to the dining room is at the rear. Margarita Suares Martínez family was visiting from Havana.

40. Josefina Martínez Alvarez, Mariana Martínez Rodríguez, Dulce Maria Martínez Alvarez
Elia María Martínez Rodríguez, Mercedes Martínez Diaz, Ofelia Martínez Rodríguez
Alicia Martínez Alvarez, Joaquín Ventura Martinez Rodríguez
The children's swing set can be glimpsed on the left. The door and window immediately behind is Joaquín Ventura Martínez's Notary Office. Notice the orchid in the planter on the right.

41. Elia María Martínez Rodríguez and her husband Manuel López Blanco
with Ignacio Prats Martínez, Manuel López Martínez (b. 1956), Miguel Lopéz Martínez (b. 1957)
Taken in 1964

42. Hilda Macias (a friend of the Lopéz children visiting from Nicaro), Ana Elia Mestas Martinez, Teresa Martínez Prats, María Lopéz Martínez, Ignacio Prats Martínez, Manuel López Martínez, Miguel Lopéz Martínez
Seated: Carmen Martínez Prats, Carlos López Martínez (b. 1959), José Luis López Martínez, Angela Prats Martínez
Taken in 1964

43. Photo of the portico taken from the stairs to the room over the cochera (carriage-room).
Clockwise from rear: Elia Rodríguez Casas, Eduvigis Respall Pereira de Prats (1895–1989), Olga Prats Respall (b. 1924), Mariana Martínez, Elia María Martínez, Carlos Macias (a friend of the López visiting from Nicaro), Ofelia Martínez, Dulce María Martínez Alvarez ( with back to camera), Ignacio Prats, Manuel López Martínez, Manuel López Blanco, Basilio Alejandro Mestas (Ofelia's husband), Unknown, Unknown, Joaquín Ventura Martínez y Martínez, Unknown. The lamp that hangs from the ceiling lighting the stairs is in the foreground right.
Taken in 1964

44. José López Martínez, Angela Prats, Benito Prats, Ignacio Prats, Manuel López, Eduvigis Respall, Teresa Martínez, Carmen Martínez, Olga Prats, (mother of the two girls to her right), Mariana Martínez, Dulce María Martínez Alvarez
Taken in 1964

45. View of the portico looking towards the stairs and carriage-room door, which is open. Ofelia Martínez Rodríguez and her husband Basilio Alejandro Mestas; Eduvigis Respall de Prats and her mother, Rufina Pereira, known as "Paita".

46–48. Photo collage showing the façade of Republica 208 taken in 1989. The boy sitting on the step gives prespective to the both the great width of the house and the height of the rooms within. On the left is the zaguán (carriage entrance) and the window-balcony of the bedroom over the cochera (carriage-room); the only room on the second floor. Next is the window of, and house's main entrance into the sala (parlor). The right-most window is the window of the library, reached from the parlor. The house's left and right walls were shared with the adjoining houses, as was the service courtyard's back wall.
The house dates back to the 18th century; perhaps earlier. The rooms at the front of the house were the carriage-room, used as the garage; the parlor; and the library. Behind the parlor was the saleta (smaller parlor) with a window and door to the portico. Behind the library was Antonio Martínez's office, the only windowless and air-conditioned room in the house. You can see the office's former window at the rear of the two pictures of the portico (Nos. 29 and 30.) Before this room was remodeled as an office, it was the girl's bedroom (Mariana, Elia Maria, and Ofelia).

A rectangular courtyard (referred to as the patio) was surrounded by galleries on all four sides, and all rooms except the parlor and library opened to it. Doors from the carriage room and the small parlor opened to the front gallery, which was called el portal (the portico). The portico was the widest of the galleries, and had shutters and spanish-glass windows to protect it from the sun and rain. This was the family room of the house, where the family sat, talked, read, sewed and family visitors were entertained. Bedrooms had a door and a window each to the side galleries. A modern bathroom had been added behind the office which opened to the side gallery, and another was added on the opposite gallery near the kitchen.

The rear gallery was just a breezeway, with the dining room immediately behind. To the right of the dining room was a large windowless pantry with an electric refrigerator and used to store the china, silverware, linen and the like. This used to be the bath room until it was remodeled. The sink was left in place and operational. To the left of the dining room was the kitchen. The kitchen also opened to the service courtyard in the rear of the house. Servants quarters opened to the service courtyard (traspatio), where the tinajones (six foot high earthenware jars) that collected rainwater from the roof before city water was available were located, as were the old "long drop" toilets.

Notice the oil paintings and other works of art throughout the house. The modern 20th Century paintings collected by Antonio Martínez were hung along the galleries and in the portico while older, more traditional oils were found in the parlors and bedrooms. More than 50 works of art were picked up by the museum in Camaguey for safekeeping when Antonio and Joaquín Ventura Martínez, and Elia Rodríguez went into exile in 1966 after the death of the last aunt.

This house was purchased in 1905 by Joaquín Buenaventura Martínez Días (1863–1918) when he moved his family to Camagüey from Havana. With him were his wife, Mariana Martínez Seijas (1865–1914), their two children Joaquín Ventura (1898-1987) and Antonio Ricardo (1905–1982), his sister Mercedes (1865–1965), and her sisters, including Francisca (1875–1964) and Natalia (1877–1941). Antonio never married, but Joaquín Ventura married Elia del Rosario Rodríguez Casas (1904–1982) in 1925 and they raised their six children in this house.

Joaquín Ventura had a doctorate in law and practiced as a notary. He was also a rural district magistrate. Antonio was college professor both in Cuba and in the United States. A brief biography of Antonio can be found here.

Maria Thompson lived in this house. Here is her story.

49, 50. Joaquín Buenaventura Martínez Díaz (1863–1918) and Mariana Martínez Seijas (1865–1914)
They purchased this house in 1905 and modernized it, adding the galleries.
51. Five of the six Martínez Seijas sisters: Magdalena, Mariana, Francisca, Natalia (1877-1941) and Maria Antonia, who was called "Mayo". Carolina joined a nunnery, and is not shown. They had one brother, Antonio, who remained in Havana and married Consuelo Sanabria. Magdalena married Emilio Martínez. Francisca did not marry and remained in this house until her death. Natalia married Juan Guzman and had no children. Maria Antonia married Luis Felipe Bolaño.

The Martínez Seijas sisters were known throughout Camaguey for their dulces (sweets and confections). We would call them "desserts" today. When they first moved to this house in 1905 with Mariana's husband and his sister Mercedes, they sold their dulces on the streets to help out while Joaquín Buenaventura was starting up his Notary Office. They hired a man to walk the streets singing ¡Dulces! ¡Dulces! ¡Dulces sabro...sos! and sell the sweets by the serving. It is said that he always returned with empty trays.

Why did Joaquín Buenaventura move to Camagüey from Havana? Maybe there were too many Notaries in Havana. His parents may have recently died and he was ready for a move. The Cuba Railroad had recently (in December of 1902) connected Camagüey to both Havana and Santiago de Cuba, reducing travel time from Havana from 3 days by ship to 15 hours by train. The once sleepy town was now railroad headquarters for the eastern half of the island and growing by leaps and bounds.

Notaries in Hispanic countries do much more than witness signatures. They are lawyers and perform the functions that real estate attorneys, wills and estates attorneys and tax attorneys perform in the United States.
52. Left, top to bottom: Joaquín B. Martínez Díaz, his son Joaquín V. Martínez y Martínez, his sister-in-law Natalia Martínez Seijas, and his son Antonio R. Martínez y Martínez. The others pictured are not known. This picture may have been taken in this house. 53. Joaquín Martínez Elizaran with his grandson
Joaquín Martínez y Martínez.
This picture was taken in 1898.