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Casa Fernández y Andrés
"Casa Botines", León (1891-1892)
The "Casa Botines" is one of only three works completed by Gaudí outside of Catalonia, along with the Episcopal Palace of Astorga and "El Capricho" in Comillas.
Gaudí built this house in Leon because of Mr. Eusebi Güell's relationship with the promoters of the Casa Botines. This was the popular nickname given to the company founded by Mr. Joan Homs y Botinàs; upon his death, it was managed by Simón Fernández Fernández, employee of the company and Mr. Homs' brother-in-law of. For this reason, the company was then called Homs y Fernández. Later on, Fernández partnered with Mariano Andrés Luna, another of Mr. Botinàs' employees, and the company was called Fernández y Andrés. The company was dedicated to the sale of textiles, most of which were purchased in Catalonia from the company managed by Güell.
In 1891, when, after litigation with the Municipal Government, Simón Fernández and Mariano Andrés were able to build a store and homes on the lot they had purchased in downtown Leon, Mr. Güell recommended that they work with Antoni Gaudí, the architect who was then finishing the restoration of the Episcopal Palace in Astorga.
Situated in the centrally located Plaza de San Marcelo, in Leon, this edifice represents an approximation to the neo-gothic in Gaudí's work. In a city with so many historic edifices that were so beautiful, the Catalan architect could not build just any building, so he designed this impressive edifice with a medievalist air.
Gaudí finished the plans in December 1891, and they were approved on the 31st of the same month, but construction did not begin until after the winter due to Leon's harsh climate. The material required for construction was prepared during that time.
The edifice includes a basement, ground floor, three more floors and an attic or loft. The roof is inclined, with a tower at each corner of the building, emphasizing its neo-gothic character. The main and right lateral facades are surrounded by a trench that improves the illumination and ventilation of the basement. This is a technique which Gaudí also used in the crypt of Sagrada Familia and the basement of the Episcopal Palace of Astorga.
The main floor is divided into two flats, one for each owner, while the other floors are each divided into four rental flats. The flats could be accessed through two doors located on the right lateral and rear facades. Pieces of forged iron can be observed over these doors, representing the initials of Mariano Andrés, owner of the house, and Joan Homs, founder of the company.
The main floor is entered through the door on the main facade, above which there is a sculpture representing St. George killing the dragon. The offices of the Fernández y Andrés company were also located on this floor, as indicated by a large forged iron sign over the main door. This sign replaced in 1930 with a sign of the "Monte de Piedad y Caja de Ahorros de Leon" (Monte de Piedad and Savings Bank of Leon), when this banking entity became the owner of this work by Gaudí.