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The Legend of the Kavanagh Building


Photo by Boris G

Kavanagh building was commissioned in 1934 by Corina Kavanagh, who sold her inheritance to build herself a luxury skyscraper. The Kavanagh building has many claims to fame: it was designed and constructed in only 14 months, for many years the Kavanagh building was the tallest building in Latin America, it has been honored with the Municipal Award for Collective Houses and Facades, it was honored by the American Institute of Architects, it has been declared a historic civil engineering landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers, it was declared a National Historic Monument by the Argentine government, and it is also rumored to be the world’s largest spite house.

Spite houses are defined as “a building constructed or modified to irritate neighbors or other parties with land stakes.” In the case of the Kavanagh building the other party with a land stake was the wealthy and aristocratic Anchorenas family. Supposedly Mercedes Castellanos de Anchorena, the family matriarch, did not approve of Corina Kavanagh’s engagement to her son. Rumor has it that the engagement was broken off because Corina was not from an aristocratic family and out of spite she bought the piece of land across the street from the Anchorenas family’s private basilica with the intent of building something to block their view of their own church.

Photo by arqpulti

Whether or not this is a true story seems to be unconfirmed but it does look plausible; The Kavanagh building directly blocks the view of the church that the Anchorenas built from San Martín Palace where they lived at the time. The only complete view of the front of the church has to be achieved from an alleyway next to the Kavanagh building called Corina Kavanagh street while the Kavanagh building stands park-side, in direct view of San Martín.

Photo by Benjamin