One of last week’s art deco shots was of the Bacardi Building in Havana, which as the name suggests was once the home of the world-famous rum producer.
The company, still family owned, now operate from Bermuda having seen the writing on the wall ahead of the revolution and set up operations beyond Cuba’s shores. They took their brand and their expertise, but what they couldn’t take was their corporate palace. At the time of its completion in 1930 it was the tallest building in the city, and the tower at its centre still dominates the skyline, like the turret of some minaret that a child has made from toy building bricks. A closer view reveals the famous bat logo at the very top.
The exterior is opulent with coloured marble sourced from several locations in Europe, glazed terracotta, and gold panels. The interior too featured polished metal, wood panelling, murals, stained glass and more. Attention to detail was paramount.
Following the revolution the building was used as offices and inevitably it began to suffer from the neglect that has afflicted so many of the city’s structures, but it was restored at the turn of the century it was restored (presumably with overseas financial support). Much of the building is still off-limits to the casual visitor but there is one appropriate attraction on a mezzanine floor.
It doesn’t sell Bacardi of course. The company might be the world’s largest privately owned spirits producer, but their operation here was nationalised so here you buy Havana Club rum, but that’s a story for another day.