La Casa de la Piedra (The House of Stone)Antonio Aguilera Ruedas, aka Rueda (May 5, 1896–November 25, 1980)
Porcuna, 23790, Spain
One may visit all but the private bedroom areas with a three euro donation.
About the Artist/Site
Antonio Aguilera Ruedas’s parents were subsistence farmers; the first born, Antonio helped them clear the land, piling little stones into his own small stacks. Within three to five years, they had cleared enough to plant olive trees and, by the time he was eight years old, the land had gained sufficiently in value that they could sell it and purchase a small quarry of 3,230 square feet, with the intent of developing a business to excavate and sell the stone.
Aguilera had little education and worked in the quarries as a young man, teaching himself to sculpt the stone into tombstones, memorial vaults, and mausoleums. In 1930, as Spain moved towards the proclamation of the Second Republic, Aguilera sold his inherited lands and was able to purchase a small quarry of his own, known as Hoyo Mendo. (The quarry is still actively in use today, and still carries the family’s name.) He also purchased a small property on which to build his dream house, a house entirely built of stone. By himself, he pulled stone out of his quarry, loading it onto a cart pulled by an old donkey, and brought the lengths to his homesite. Hearkening back to the stories his parents told of the construction of their field house and his experience seeing his neighbors build small shelters in their fields without diagrams or drawings, he began to develop his Casa without written plans or even a clear sense of the full scope of the project.
Aguilera worked on his project until summer 1936, when he was arrested and jailed until March 1939, after which he returned to Porcuna. Despite the almost herculean efforts that were physically required to quarry the stones, in his memoirs Aguilera complained that the hardest part of the labor on the house was not the cutting or shaping of the stones, but putting up with the harangues of his family and neighbors about the foolishness of the project. The Casa was finished in 1960; he had defied local styles, traditions, aesthetics, and ways of working as he built, and his activities so radically breached what was considered conventional—if not normal—that he matter-of-factly acknowledged that everyone thought he was crazy.
Antonio Aguilera Ruedas swore that the Casa de la Piedra would last as long as the world itself lasted. And although its status currently remains in doubt as the heirs fight with governmental agencies about ownership, the house itself appears stable and secure. It remains as a quirky monument to one man’s powerful vision and almost superhuman physical efforts to use his specialized skills to construct a very special home. One may visit all but the private bedroom areas with a three euro donation.
~Jo Farb Hernández
Map & Site Information
Latitude/Longitude: 37.875941 / -4.184652