Thursday, October 17, 2013

Building of the Month: Old Spanish Embassy, Monrovia

Keeping with the Embassy theme from yesterday's post, for the Building of the Month I thought I'd nominate an embassy that is one of many in the city that ceased to exist in during the war (really all except for the US Embassy closed), and one that sadly has not re-opened its diplomatic mission, even ten years after the end of the conflict. 

Spanish Embassy, without so much as a wooden fence. Flag flying at right. Date unknown.

The Kingdom of Spain, like all major European nations, had a consular legation in Monrovia. The Spanish Embassy was not part of the Embassy Row of Mamba Point, which had the American, British, Dutch, and French Embassies for decades. Yet the Spaniards had a seafront setting that was as equally dramatic as any clifftop compound in the city. 

The Spanish Embassy is at the center of the photograph, below and left of the Executive Mansion. c.1970

Tucked behind the Executive Mansion grounds, and possibly even predating its construction, the Spanish Embassy was at the end of a cul-de-sac off Redemption Road which to this day doesn't specifically have a name. A number of grand oceanfront residential mansions were built here from at least the 1950s onwards. 

Viewed from the beach in this washed-out photo, c.1965. 
The Executive Mansion, possibly under construction, is in the background.

As the last house on this lane, the house that acted as the Spanish mission is particularly recognizable for its curving, cantilevered gallery, almost looking like a turreted tower jutting out toward the sea. 

View of the Executive Mansion from Redemption Road, 2012, showing the vacant 
Spanish Embassy as the last building on the right. 

Even before the war, some of these private homes were given over to government agencies, and today this area houses the Liberia chapter of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (LEITI), and the Liberia copyright office, and at time some other governmental offices. 

Post-war map of Monrovia, c.1999, showing the old locations of the 
Kingdom of Spain Embassy, as well as the Swedish and PR China Embassies. 

More recently, this quiet corner of the central city has been buzzing with the recent opening of the grand Angler's Bar and Restaurant, which vies for the title of Monrovia's finest eating establishment. Sadly, the erstwhile Iberian embassy has yet to be refurbished, although it is still standing prominently above the beach. As mentioned a few years ago, Monrovia hosts an honorary Spanish consulate on Broad Street at the KLM/Air France/Kenya Airways ticket office.

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