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Bayside, New York
December 11, 2001
787-259-1774 - Call for information on tour schedule
When we arrive at the Serallés Castle, it is pouring only the way it can pour in the Caribbean. You can park your car on the premises but then you have to make a bee line to the coffee shop where they sell the tickets for the tour to this estate. Even in the rain, the beauty and placement of this residence is not diminished.
There is a fee of $3.00 per person; open to visitors tuesday to sunday from 9:30am to 5:00pm.
Our guide takes us on a whirlwind tour, and according to one of the women on our tour, she talks too fast; I find her English to be lightly accented and she talks about these folks as if they were her relatives.
This residence served one of Puerto Rico's most powerful rum-producing families, the Serallés. The castle is designed by Pedro de Castro and completed by the early 1930's. He pays particular detail to windows, views, ironwork and ceilings. The stone beams are painted in a manner so as to look wooden with painted decorations.
The formal dining room is fashioned in medieval Spanish style; the mahogany table itself has been estimated to cost over a million dollars. The chairs' backs are leather with intricate designs. A wrought iron gate separates the dining area from the rest of the house. There is a smaller, everyday dining area which is very charming as well, and has more light coming from the windows. We also see the study, Dona Mercedes' bedroom, with a very large bathroom in art deco style with all fixtures in black; there was also a dressing table, and an alcove built into the bathroom wall displaying an assortment of perfumes and powders. Adjacent to the bedroom is a sewing room. Around the inner patio is a display of the children's toys: most are wooden mahogany and other exotic woods. They are simple, colorful, - dolls, scooters, wooden trains and very intricately carved and cars.
The first distillery is named after the owner's wife, Mercedes.
The castle is now a property of the Puerto Rican government; abandoned by the family who still lives in Ponce, but in other parts. It overlooks Ponce , but provides such a stark contrast to the poverty and run down shape of this city; it's pitiful.
At the end of the tour, we go into the theater in the basement and watch a 15 minute film showing harvest of sugar cane, the workers, the plantation, and how the family business grew. The very end of the tour takes you to the arts & crafts shops where you can shop for souvenirs.
From journal Ponce - La Perla del Sur
New York, New York
January 17, 2001
From journal Ponce, The Pearl of the South