Casa Roig is more than a museum, it is a glimpse into the life of a wealthy sugar plantation owner, an architectural first in the region, restoration in progress, as well as a lovely exhibit hall for local artists.
Sugar production shaped the Caribbean culture in many ways including wealth distribution and overall agriculture. Casa Roig is a unique Prairie House style architecture build by renowned Czechoslovakian architect Antonin Nechodoma in the Frank Lloyd Wright influenced style of building. This house was unique to the region and would appear modern, futuristic even compared to the local buildings at the time.
Located in the heart of Humacao, Puerto Rico, Museo Casa Roig is hidden on a small street. A street that I have hurriedly driven down, not noticing this delightful two story former plantation owner’s home now restored and converted into a museum and art gallery.
The exterior tiles around the house are in mid-restoration while the house itself looks like construction was just completed. The interior offers dark wood floors and walls, polished to a shine. It is the bright colored stained glass windows all around the house that will wow and delight visitors.
Visitor’s are taken through the house room by room learning about the owners, architecture, restoration process, and viewing of the current art exhibition in the upper rooms.
The kitchen is my favorite part of the house. The butter yellow stain glass above the window, honeycomb tile floor, and white tiled wood burning stove are all original to the house. Stepping into the kitchen I can almost hear the bustling sounds of preparing meals and the smell of wood burning mixed with the local root vegetables simmering on the stove.
Be sure to watch my video tour until you can visit this treasure for yourself!
Tours can be reserved by calling ahead (787-852-8380), or take a chance and show up Monday through Friday 10 am until 3:30 pm. There is small parking lot in back of the Museum. Parking, museum entrance, and private guided tours are FREE! There is a small donation box for guests that want to contribute to operations and restoration fund.
The house and surrounding property was donated to the University of Puerto Rico in 1977. Adjacent to the former plantation home, is a new building that functions as administrative and research facilities. There is a small dedicated research room for preservation of original photos, the history of the Roig family and sugar plantations around Puerto Rico.
Despite sugar production being a major influence in Puerto Rico, there are not many preserved sites like Casa Roig to learn about the history and see the artifacts of the time.
In my attempt to learn more about sugar production in the area, I went to the ruins of the Hacienda la Lucia sugar mill site in Yabacoa, 15 kilometers south of Casa Roig along the east coast in Puerto Rico. What remains of a corner wall and a couple large rusted gears are the only items on-site. Without bolt cutters, I was unable to walk any closer than this sign and the barbed wire fence behind it.
I had better results with my drone and was able to get close enough to capture this image of the site. That is all that remains of this sugar mill that was so critical to the economy.
A better preserved site is the Water Pump station located in Humacao Natural Reserve. The rusted pipes and pump housing is accessible to allow anyone to get up close and walk around the remaining gears and pipes.
Where ever you go in Puerto Rico, keep a look out for evidence of the sugar plantation history, it is lurking all around the island!