The Casa del Alabado

History of The Casa del Alabado

The Casa del Alabado is probably one of the oldest houses in Quito’s Colonial district. Although the date of its construction as it stands today is uncertain, it is thought to have been built between 1530 and 1670 in an already inhabited area. In addition to historical records that provide evidence of the existence of a significant population center, we have a first-hand document at the house: one of its oldest-looking beams was subjected to radiocarbon dating and showed that the tree was felled between 1350 and 1450. This indicates that the most immediate materials used for prior nearby constructions were recycled or reused to build new Colonial buildings.

The house is located half a block from the first square built in Quito at the time of the Spanish foundation of the city and took up almost an entire city block. Its size and privileged location in the context of early Colonial urbanization leads us to deduce that it belonged to families or entities of high social and economic rank.

According to the architect in charge of its restoration, Luis López, the building went through several architectural changes, the most significant taking place around 1671. Two documents dating from that time and vouching for the building are in existence: a construction order given by the Spanish captain Diego Miño de Paz y Paredes, and the house’s stone lintel, which states: “BLESSED BE THE MOST HOLY… THIS ENTRANCE WAS FINISHED IN THE YEAR 1671”.

The Casa del Alabado has been used as a residence for generations, and has undergone changes and parcelling throughout its history. Quito’s urban changes transformed ways of living and relating in the city and with them the use made of housing in the Historical Center. As part of such changes, the Casa del Alabado was turned into a mill, rental housing and warehouses for nearby businesses.

The architectural intervention and restoration to turn the building into a museum took approximately six years.

The Casa del Alabado Museum of Pre-Columbian Art opened its doors to the public in April 2010.