Eusebio Leal Spengler, Who Restored Old Havana, Dies at 77

Eusebio Leal Spengler, who led an effort to protect Old Havana, remodeling that historic district from a forgotten slum into an architectural jewel and vacationer vacation spot, died on July 31 in Havana. He was 77.

His demise was reported by Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party. In latest years he had been handled for pancreatic most cancers.

In an announcement, President Miguel Diaz-Canel of Cuba referred to as him “the Cuban who saved Havana.”

Mr. Leal started his preservation efforts within the 1980s, when the previous heart of the capital metropolis was a wreck. Residents lived with out indoor plumbing or dependable electrical energy, rubbish piled up on the streets, and 250-year-old buildings typically collapsed earlier than their eyes.

As a historian and director of the Havana City Museum, Mr. Leal was keen about saving Cuba’s architectural historical past. He as soon as lay down in entrance of a steamroller to avoid wasting a colonial-era wood avenue from being paved over. Through his campaigning, Old Havana was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1982.

Eusebio Leal Spengler was born on Sept. 11, 1942, in a working-class district of Havana. He was reared by his single mother, a washerwoman and cleaner, and dropped out of school in the sixth grade to help support the family. No other information was available about his mother or father. Survivors include his two sons, Javier Leal and Carlos Manuel Leal.

After the 1959 revolution brought Castro to power, public education in Cuba became free. In 1975, Mr. Leal earned a bachelor’s degree in history, and later a Ph.D. in historical sciences, from the University of Havana. But he had early on been self-taught, spending his youth in libraries reading about history and architecture. In the early 1960s he was made an apprentice in the Office of Historian, held at the time by Emilio Roig de Leuchsenring.

When Mr. Roig died in 1967, Mr. Leal assumed the role and oversaw the renovation of the 18th-century governor’s palace into a museum, his first restoration project.

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