According to historian Eduardo Neumann Gandía, the City Hall, or House of the People, was inaugurated in 1843 on the grounds where the San Antonio de Abad Chapel was formerly located. The history of the city has been forged in this building, which has witnessed the careers of mayors and two sovereignties in Puerto Rico. Formerly, the justice of the peace and the public library were located on the first floor. Also, in the rear of the structure, there was a jail.
The colonial style two-story building is made of reinforced concrete. The original plans were designed by Spanish architect Francisco Gil Capó. The exterior is distinguished by ornamental ironwork on the main entrance that adds a decorative element to the moderate design of the structure. Galleries lead to two interior patios with prominent arcades. The public clock that dates to 1877 is located in the building's façade. The City Hall has undergone many renovations, with the most recent taking place under the administration of Mayor Rafael Cordero Santiago. During these works, a picturesque fountain was added to the interior patio and stained glass windows by Herminia Rivera were installed in the main offices.
In the City Hall are the offices of the mayor, the municipal assembly and other members of the cabinet. Its interior galleries are used for art exhibitions. On display in City Hall are artworks that feature the Puerto Rican musical genre of la plena and popular personalities. Also in the main offices are works by Francisco Oller, Francisco de Goya, and an oil painting of Regent Queen María Cristina. The interior patios are used for cultural and official public events. The Christmas concert, held on the Saturday before Christmas Eve, and the Ponce Carnival, one of the most heavily attended in Puerto Rico, are held across from City Hall.
• In the Municipal Assembly chambers are oil paintings of portraits of the city's mayors.
• The bars of the old jail that was once located in the building are still there today.
• The clock in the City Hall was acquired in England in 1877, the year that Queen Isabel II of Spain granted Ponce the title of city.
• Two United States presidents have greeted Ponce residents from the balconies of City Hall: Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover.
• The oil painting of Regent Queen María Cristina was rescued and returned to the city by the United States Navy after an insurgent tried to destroy it when United States troops occupied City Hall.
Adapted by PROE Editorial Group
Original source: Ponce: ciudad museo, 2001. Proyecto subvencionado por la Fundación Puertorriqueña de las Humanidades.
Autor: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: January 25, 2010.