U.S. Consulate in Barcelona celebrates 225 years
The current consulate, an elegant neoclassical palace, was added to the prestigious list of the State Department's Office of Cultural Heritage
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Dec. 29, 2022 marked the 225th anniversary of the opening of the U.S. Consulate in Barcelona. Currently located in an elegant neoclassical palace on Passeig de la Reina Elisenda, a residential area for the wealthy classes of the city, the American Consulate was opened by order of the second president of the United States, John Adams, in 1797, and is one of the oldest in the world. At that time, U.S. marines and traders had a strong presence in Barcelona.
According to the video posted by the consulate on social media, Adams decided to open the consular presence in Barcelona "to promote trade between his country, which had just been born, and a Catalonia that was beginning to emerge on an industrial scale." The man chosen to be its first consul was William Willis, a Navy captain.
Since then, the consulate has been part of the life of Barcelona and has witnessed the highlights of the city. It changed locations multiple times. Throughout the 19th century, it was located at different points near Plaza Catalunya, the nerve center of the city, to move to the larger headquarters at 33 Via Layetana, commercial artery that connects the city center with the sea, where it was during half of the 20th century.
In 1992, the year of the Barcelona Olympic Games, the consulate moved to a neoclassical palace on Paseo de la Reina Elisenda, in the Sarria neighborhood, a residential area for the city's wealthy. The palace is the work of the prestigious architect Enric Sagnier and is decorated with 1923 frescoes by painter Darius Vilas.
The consulate has begun the rehabilitation of the palace — starting by the pavilion, facade and frescoes to follow — considered a paradigm of the noucentista style.
Celebrem 225 anys a Barcelona! Avui fa exactament 225 anys del nomenament del primer cònsol dels Estats Units a la ciutat. Del primer, William Willis, a l’actual, Katie Stana, han passat més de 50 cònsols i més de dos segles d’història compartida. Aquesta és la nostra història: pic.twitter.com/RyovEtAlB5— U.S. Consulate General Barcelona (@USConsulateBCN) December 29, 2022
The building was added to the U.S. State Department's select list of properties with cultural and historical value around the world, according to La Vanguardia. The Office of Cultural Heritage was created in 2015 to implement a stewardship program for the care of the State Department's culturally, historically and architecturally significant properties and collections through research, conservation, educational programs, exhibit design and maintenance protocols. The list includes 44 buildings, such as the U.S. Embassy in Athens, designed by architect Walter Gropius; the Ambassador's residence in Sweden, a key World War II theater; and the Rothschild Hotel in Paris.
Through 225 years, a total of 53 consuls have passed through the Consulate of Barcelona. Katie Stana is currently the fifth woman to hold the post. The American Consulate in Barcelona serves Americans living in Catalonia, Aragon and Andorra, as well as the thousands of U.S. tourists who visit the city every year. Americans represent the largest foreign tourist group and the one that spends the most money per person on trips to Spain.