They were the protagonists of the history of the pioneers. Today, their palaces are two of the most representative places as regards the architecture and the past of the city.
There are some protagonists in the history of Patagonia pioneering who have written important pages both in Argentina and Chile. The members of the Braun family were some of them and the City of Punta Arenas is the place where they lived and created their destiny. Close to the Plaza de Armas (main square), in addition to the church cathedral, the residence of the governor, the traditional Cabo de Hornos Hotel, visitors may see the Sara Braun Palace and the José Braun Menéndez Residence, two mansions worth visiting to understand the influence of this family in the origins of the city.
Sara, the Landlady and her House
Sara Braun came from her native Russia to the southern lands in 1874 and, in 1887, she married a Portuguese businessman, enterprising José Nogueira. Amongst other successful business, such as gold exportation, Nogueira was one of the first pioneers in sheep raising and the founder of Sociedad Explotadora de Tierra del Fuego
. In 1886, he was granted pieces of land that reached one million hectares in the area of Magallanes and whose manager was Sara’s brother: Mauricio Braun.
With an extraordinary fortune in his possession, Nogueira died of TB at the age of 48 and left his wife a valuable heritage which doña Sara knew how to care and manage. In 1895, the beautiful widow finished constructing the magnificent house her husband had ordered to be built by French architect Numa Mayer five years before dying. The materials and the furniture as well as the exquisite style details were acquired in Europe and shipped to Magallanes. The palace was finished in 1905 and it features two stories, an elegant façade and a magnificent winter garden made with a metallic structure where an ancient grapevine still grows.
The Braun Menéndez Residence
In the same year Sara was inaugurating her brand new house, architect Antonio Beaulier began building the Braun Menéndez Palace, owned by Mauricio, Sara’s younger brother and former manager of Nogueira. In 1895, Mauricio Braun married Josefina Menéndez Behety, José Menéndez’s eldest daughter and heir. The wedding celebrated by father José Fagnano sealed the three big fortunes of the region, which continued to spread all across Patagonia. As their business spread across the Aysén area, the Braun Menéndez built their house designed in 1903 by French architect Antoine Beaulier. And, following the trend of the epoch, all materials used from the foundations to the decoration were imported from the old continent. In 1974, both mansions were declared national monuments and in 1983 the descendents of the Braun Menéndez couple donated the entire building, along with the furniture and the original ornaments, to the Chilean government. At present, the Sara Braun Palace houses the exclusive Nogueira Hotel and the Club de Unión
institutional venue in another wing. On the other hand, the former Braun Menéndez residence shelters the Magallanes Regional Museum
, which displays the collections of these families’ heritage.
Find here hotels and accommodations in Punta Arenas