Historical building in Liberia restored using traditional techniques

This también publication is available in: Español

In central Liberia, there are still bits of history surviving in the architecture of the township. Most of them are buildings located on Calle Real, a 500 meter stretch of road in the heart of the White City.

Center stage at the street entrance is the old government building. The white adobe and bahareque building was built in 1850 and the “most distinguished families” celebrated important dates there like July 25 and September 15.

The, local authorities also received a visit from former President Tomas Guardia. The heart of former President Daniel Oduber is even buried in its patio.

In February 2022, the Municipality of Liberia and the Heritage Center of the Ministry of Culture and Youth (MCJ for the Spanish acronym) have begun the restoration work on the iconic structure.

Civil engineering students from the University of Costa Rica (UCR) carried out the structural diagnosis. Later, the municipality hired the architect Bernadette Esquivel. She and the heritage team defined the work to be carried out on the historic building.

The building is in very good condition despite its age, the architect told The Voice. The most important works were carried out on the corners of the building due to the cracks they presented.

In this building, there are adobe and bahareque walls. Although both are made of earth, they are very different systems. Sometimes during earthquakes they move differently and create cracks in these joints, although I must say that in this building these cracks are not serious”, said Bernadette.

Funds for this restoration come from Law No. 9156, which allocates a percentage of Daniel Oduber International Airport taxes to infrastructure and cultural works in the province.

Clay is mixed with water and lime to make plaster for the walls. More water is added to this same mixture to form a finer mixture, called lechada or grout, to seal cracks and as a final plaster finish. Photo: Courtesy of the Heritage Center

Rediscover tradition

Guicho PizarroLiberia’s famous beef herder, was tasked with transporting the special soil for plastering and restoring the walls of the government building.

Guicho Pizarro. Photo: David Bolanos

He extracts it from a site located at the foot of the Rincon de la Vieja volcanonear the Liberia landfill. From there to the government building, he transports the clay about five kilometers (3 miles) using a cart and two oxen.

Workers pour soil into basins with water to make the traditional mix. Photo: Courtesy of the Heritage Center

Once there, the workers mix the clay soil using their feet. Then they add water to give it the necessary texture.

Ten people who learned to work adobe, bahareque and whitewash walls using traditional building techniques worked on this restoration.

The work will be completed in July, for inaugurate the restored building on the 25th of the month during the celebration of the annexation.

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