SANTIAGO – Once elected, the constitutional convention will hammer out a new Magna Carta at Pereira Palace in Santiago Center. Built in the 19th century, the palace has been an icon of the city. Special convention sessions, however, will take place in Congress.
Pereira Palace will house the constitutional convention. Built in 1872 and an icon of Santiago, the palace was remodeled from 2016-2019. It had deteriorated due to lack of upkeep.
The building will house the 155-member convention which will be elected on April 11. To accommodate the convention 15 offices with 102 work stations, 11 meeting rooms, and a special dining hall were set up.
But the convention will move to Congress for meetings that require the attendance of all members.
A Staple of Santiago Center
The plot of land where the palace was built on was used for agriculture until 1793 and then for housing. In 1872, Luis Pereira Cotapos bought the land to get his domicile built.
Luis was the son of José Luis Pereira, a colonel who fought in the war for independence. Pereira Cotapos served as representative, senator and Foreign Affairs Minister. He grew wealthy thanks to saltpeter investments in the north and in agriculture in the south.
He hired French architect Lucien Henault, who also designed parliament. Henault designed a neoclassical building for Pereira Cotapos with hints of French Renaissance, setting the palace apart from the other buildings with Spanish influences.
Pereira Cotapos died in 1909 while his family lived in the palace until 1932, when the building was sold to the Catholic Church which used it to house Santiago’s archbishop. In 1960, the palace was bought by San Luis Realty Agency which transformed it into a shopping center and later rented it to the Education Ministry.
It was used as a public school before being abandoned in 1970, after which it rapidly deteriorated. Although it was labeled a public monument in 1984, it was almost demolished. But the state bought the palace in 2011 for the Bicentennial legacy project.
Originally, the Directorate of Libraries, Archives and Museums, plus the National Monuments Council were planned to occupy the second floor while the first floor would be a museum.
In 2014, the restoration plans were consolidated and the palace was rebuilt and expanded until 2019.