The Federal Courthouse at Old San Juan
The Old San Juan Federal Building, named Jose V. Toledo Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse (but referred by most as the old post office), was built in 1914, although it has been restored several times. The building has a marble-trimmed entrance lobby with a Spanish-inspired white marble imperial staircase, and public corridors of salt-glazed brick with cast-iron ventilator grilles designed to keep the building comfortable in the tropical Puerto Rican climate. The 1940 addition includes a fifth-floor ceremonial courtroom with decorative tile wainscoting and a diamond-pattern cornice. Original 1940s furnishings have been recreated.
In 1996 the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) commenced a meticulous restoration following the recovery of approximately 16,000 artifacts that were discovered during preliminary archaeological work on the site. The exterior was restored to its 1940 appearance. Historically significant areas were identified for restoration or replacement. The second-story loggia, closed in the late 1940s or early 1950s, was reopened. The six-foot eaves, removed in 1958, were reconstructed. Original ceremonial spaces were restored. The building was reinforced to withstand earthquakes. Wherever possible, original architectural materials were reused rather than replaced, preserving the integrity of the building.
In March 2000 the Society for History in the Federal Government awarded the John Wesley Powell Prize for Excellence in Historic
Preservation to GSA for the rehabilitation and restoration work conducted at the building. In 2002 the project received two awards: the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Chairman’s Award for outstanding federal preservation achievement, and the American Institute of Architects New England Charter’s Honor Award.
Currently, the building is jointly used by the Bankruptcy Federal Court, the Federal District Court for Puerto Rico, and the First Circuit Court of Appeals. All of these jurisdictions are co-sponsors of the PRTAC and kindly allows the use of the building for the competition.
Paseo de la Princesa is located on the south side of Old San Juan, just along from where the cruise ships dock (as a port of call).”
The “Arcada” at the Princesa Promenade
The “Paseo de La Princesa” (Princesa Promenade) was originally built in 1853 and over the past few years has been faithfully restored to become a great place to walk or people watch. The tree lined promenade provides plenty of shade and you will usually find local street vendors and artisan stalls as you walk along the promenade. Towering above you to your right are the impressive fortification walls of Old San Juan and to your left is San Juan Bay.
As well as food vendors and artisans there is a small open air café; Café La Princesa that is set against the walls of the city. On certain nights of the week the café offers live music. As part of the promenade, there is a fountain, Raices (Roots), that celebrate the different cultural influences in the Puerto Rican culture.
Right across from the fountain, the “Arcada” offers an open space for social gathering with the impressive San Juan Wall as its backdrop. This is where the PRTAC holds its welcoming reception and coaches’ meeting.