Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Hacienda Buena Vista

On Saturday, we visited Hacienda Buena Vista located in the hills just north of Ponce. The original plantation was started in 1833 by Salvador Vives. It is now owned by the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust and is operated as a historical museum. Our tour included the buildings, a walk through the forest where coffee is grown, and a demonstration of the 19th century machinery used to process the coffee and other crops.
John waiting for our tour to begin. 
Hacienda Buena Vista.JPG
The plantation ceased operations in the early 1900s and the buildings were abandoned. The property was purchased by the Conservation Trust in 1984 and was restored. The plantation house was built in a Spanish Colonial style. The walls are original, but the parts made out of wood had to be rebuilt.  

This is the dining room. The house was very breezy and pleasant. 
This is an office room. 

This is the main living area.

This is a view of the grounds from the upstairs balcony. The water is part of a 2600 foot canal that was built for hydraulic power to operate the machinery.

A bedroom.

The water filter. Water drips through the limestone bowl into the urn below. 

The kitchen.

The bathroom.

The hole in the wall is to let air go through in case of a hurricane. The walls are over a foot thick. 

Over 50 slaves were housed in the upstairs of this building at one time. The lower level was used to store the drying coffee beans in case of rain. The drying racks could be slid into the house on a platform.

The hacienda's original crops were plantains, bananas, corn, and avocados that were grown and sold in Ponce. Later, a corn mill was added to produce flour. The original owner's grandson added coffee to the crops.

These are cacoa beans growing from a tree in the woods. The coffee and other crops were planted among the natural  plants in the area. 

Here are some green coffee beans. They ripen and turn a red color in the fall. They must be picked by hand.

This is a vanilla plant growing on a trellis. 

As we walked through the woods, the tour guide explained that this is a relatively young banyan tree (under 100 years) because it still as thorns on it. 

We saw a beautiful waterfall on the property. The tour guide said that the owner decided to call his plantation Hacienda Buena Vista because of this view. 

This giant frying pan was placed on top of the oven behind it for roasting coffee (and maybe corn). I'm sure the room was unbearably hot when the oven was fired up. 

These are the drying racks that could be slid under the slaves' quarters one underneath another. 

This is a view of the mill wheel which I enjoyed seeing in action. It is 16 feet in diameter and moves the gears for the grinding stones of the corn mill.

Another corn mill powered with a hydraulic turbine from the West Point Foundry in New York was added in 1847. The flour from Hacienda Buena Vista was famous for its excellent quality.
The millstones were imported from France in pieces and then put together like a puzzle.

This is an example of a hand operated mill. Doing this for long would be a good workout. 
A millstone.

I think this is part of the turbine, but I don't know that much about farm machinery.

Water was sent down a canal with bumpy stones sticking out of it to aerate and purify the water. 

The gardens outside the plantation house.
I really enjoyed visiting Hacienda Buena Vista and imagining life long ago in Puerto Rico. I wish slavery hadn't been part of the history. I was impressed with the restoration done by the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust. 

1 comment:

  1. What a great write up on your outing--you have a real talent both with the pictures and the write up--it makes me want to go again!!