1996 World Monuments Watch
The Convent of Santa Clara of Assisi in Old Havana was the first to be built in the city in 1638-1643 and except for a brief period as a hospital during the British occupation in 1762, the building served continuously as a convent through 1921. After the government bought the complex in 1923, it was used as government offices and storage facilities. The Convent of Santa Clara was included on the 1996 World Monuments Watch to catalyze an effort to conserve the whole of historic Havana, which at the time was in dire need of conservation. The first and second cloisters were last restored in the early 1990s as the headquarters of the Centro Nacional de Conservación, Restauración y Museología (CENCREM), but the complex has remained abandoned since 2012 when the center was dissolved and is in need of urgent interventions to prevent further collapses. Santa Clara is located in a dilapidated sector of Old Havana, but adjacent to a revitalized area. Its restoration and re-use would continue to serve as a catalyst for further investment in the area.
Revitalizing an underserved area
World Monuments Fund is collaborating with the Office of the Historian of the City of Havana (OHCH) in the partial restoration of the first cloister of the Convent of Santa Clara, focusing on the building sections and bell tower facing Cuba and Sol streets. The rehabilitation of Santa Clara is part of the OHCH’s ongoing campaign to revitalize Old Havana through restoration and adaptive re-use. The restored areas will be used as a conference center and lodging for preservation activities.
In February 2019, the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust announced $2 million total in funding to support preservation efforts at five WMF projects, including Santa Clara Convent. Funds will support the restoration of the convent’s first cloister by providing essential materials and equipment and assisting in the organizing of technical workshops.