The Recollects cede the “Fazenda do Centro” for an environmental project
The Augustinian Recollects have ceded the house of the “Fazenda do Centro” to Fray Manuel Simon Institute (IFMS) for the next 20 years. The IFMS has elaborated a project of museology and environment which will be inaugurated shortly and which will offer to the visitors, among other activities, the garden of medicinal plants, a nursery of native essences, of phytotherapeutic pharmacy, a memorial of ethnic groups or Bed and Coffee program.
The Institute Fray Manuel Simon (IFMS) was closed in 2005 taking the name of one of the Augustinian Recollects who passed through the City of Castelo, in the State of Espiritu Santo, at the Southern part of Brazil. This Institute joins together public and private initiatives to restore the architectural, historical and cultural patrimony.
On August 28, 2009 the renovated chapel of St. Thomas of Villanova was inaugurated at the border of the Big House. From then on the works of remodeling have been going on around and in the accesses of the property as well as in the interior spaces and the furniture. The forthcoming inauguration, which is still to be announced, will surprise the visitor, among other things, with the projects so attractive and coherent as the garden of medicinal plants, a nursery of native essences, the phytotherapheutic pharmacy, the memorial of ethnic groups or the program of Bed and Coffee, among others.
What is known as Fazenda do Centro, is actually a land property of livestock and agricultural exploitation belonging to the Augustinian Recollects, where they also have their rest house. It is located at a mountainous zone around 11 kilometers from the city of Castelo.
The center of the Fazenda – and its principal attraction- is a big house of stone and cement, with around 20 rooms, which occupies 1,800 square meters. It was constructed in the same year when the Property was acquired, in 1845, and from 1989 it was considered as a historical-cultural patrimony of the municipality. Between 1952 and 1989 it served as a house of formation of the Order of the Augustinian Recollects in Brazil.
The Property was founded in 1845 by one of the pioneers of the coffee production in this area, Antonio Vieira Machado da Cunha, who had around 600 working slaves. By then the Property was the only populated area, with its housing, warehouses, grinding mill, chapel, plantation of coffee as well as rice and others.
The abolition of slavery in Brazil, in 1888, signified the dwindling of the Property, which was offered for sale and went to pass through various hands until it was abandoned. In 1909 the Augustinian Recollects acquired the property, in partnership with a group of Italian immigrants. With this came, in the following year, what was considered as the first agrarian reform of the State of Espitu Santo – according to some, the first throughout Latin America-. The lands were shuffled and distributed among the migrants. In the Fazenda there came to live more than 300 families, who, in a form of cooperative, dedicated themselves to the cultivation of coffee, sugar cane and millet.
The Property came to be converted into the most important economic and social center of the region, as well as an important center of evangelization, because around it there existed 12 chapels administered by the Augustinian Recollects. Here religious have worked whose collective memories have remained, as Fray Manuel Simon, the founder, and the Blessed Jose Rada.
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