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History of Escola das Gaivotas building

The building is referred in all the consulted bibliography as the Alarcão Palace and it integrates the Municipal Heritage Inventory (IMP) under the no 49.15. Little is known about its genesis, but maybe its origin was in the XVI century. It is known that it was built in the brotherhood of Our Lady of Lantígua's lands, established in the parish church of St. Catherine. It would already be an old building in 1640 and belonged to D. João Soares de Alarcão, 8th Torres Vedras Captain-General and works were done it in around 1700. However, what later happened in this building is particularly relevant to its' history and also the countries'.

Not recognizing D. João IV's acclamation, Duke of Bragança, as the King of Portugal, the referred owner of the building joined the conspiracy against the monarch that, according to its' tradition, gathered with a group of conspirators in the attic of the great hall of the noble floor of the palace. Once the conspiracy was found out about, its' members were executed in Rossio, while D. João de Alarcão escaped to Spain and joined Filipe IV' army. The building was then confiscated by the Reprisal Court, specially constituted for the abduction of the conspirators' assets. In 1658 the Regent Queen, D. Luísa de Gusmão, while D. Afonso VI was still under-age, donated the building to Francisco de Brito Freire, for his services provided to the State, who promptly rented the place. The peace treaty between Portugal and Castela, signed in 1668, stipulated the restitution of the confiscated assets since the 1640 revolution, which resulted in the buildings being given back to D. João de Alarcão, who left it in will to his son D. Francisco Soares de Alarcão. However, the Count of Avintes, D. António de Almeida, married to D. Francisco de Alarcão's niece, took it away by force of arms, accusing his cousin D. Francisco de Alarcão of treason. Meanwhile, he interposed a legal process which he lost against Count of Avintes. The building was once again rented to Francisco de Brito Freire. After that, through inheritances and successive sales, the building went through several hands.

 In 1908, the Castilho High School was located in the building and, two years after that, on 30th December, a tenancy contract is concluded between the owner Francisco da Fonseca Benevides and City of Lisboa Primary School inspector to set up a primary school there. The tenancy starts on the 1st of January 1911 and lasts for 6 renewable months. The contract aims part of the building – noble floor and the above floors – for the instalment of the Central Boy School n2. The preservation, reparation and adaptation works were in charge of the Câmara Municipal de Lisboa. After the 2005-2006 academic year, the school became vacant.

As for the remaining tenancies, the ground floor and the mezzanine were occupied by the Casa dos Parafusos, from the Salgueiros & Pereira, Lda business (now also vacant). The intermediate floor (1st floor with its entry on Rua das Gaivotas, n. 6) that shows a plaque that informs us that this was once occupied by the Greater Lisboa Professors Union – Irene Lisboa Institute, is now on loan to the cultural project DNA Lisboa (District of New Art), conjoined project of the  two entities Praga – Cultural Association (Praga Theatre) and Os Filhos do Lumière – Cultural Association following a tender for the allocation of space exploration carried out by the Câmara Municipal de Lisboa in 2012.

The inside of the building as been through some changes, most of them needed to adapt the place to an educational establishment. However, it can still be seen most of the original spatiality, especially the state rooms and the kitchen, well outlined by thick structural walls. The building, of municipal property, is now on the Cultural Action Division charge, of the Cultural Municipal Direction, from Câmara Municipal de Lisboa. The facade of the Casa dos Parafusos, n 186, with one of the most original and creative tile advertising panelling integrates the Municipal Heritage Inventory (n 49.16).

António Miranda
(updates on the 20th August 2015)