The establishment of the House of the Azores of the State of Rio Grande do Sul dates back to the cultural activities undertaken by the Autonomous Region of the Azores in the decades 1980-90. These cultural exchanges inspired many “gaújos”, among them several gravataienses, that became interested in their cultural roots and, as a consequence, started promoting the culture of their insular ancestors.
In Gravataí the first Azorean Hall was founded by the Portuguese Cultural Institute and the Municipality of Gravataí, a venue that served as a stage for more daring events. Gaúcho traditional dances were included in the international festival of the folklore of Terceira, with two groups from Gravataí winning the contest, namely, the group from Aldeia dos Anjos and the group from DCG EstânciaProvíncia de São Pedro. The latter, led by Régis Albino Marques Gomes, was inspired by the festival and established the “Association of the Friends of the Azores” and, soon thereafter, the House of the Azores of the State of Rio Grande do Sul (CAERGS) was created. However, on the 23th March 2003, when the House of Azores was founded, it still did not have its own head-office.
There was a building in ruins in the city, over one hundred years old, that had been built by a son of Azoreans. It was about to be destroyed so that the land could be sold to developers. Aware of this fact, local artists protested and embraced the building for three cold nights. The Mayor negotiated its sale with the owners, purchased the building, and promised to construct a cultural venue for the municipality.
Years passed and nothing happened. The deterioration of the house continued unabated. One day we decided to meet with the Mayor. We wanted to install the House of Azores in the vacant and derelict building. The Mayor said he would think about it and in the next day he sent us a message: “As long as you restore the Casarão dos Fonseca, you can keep it!” It was a shock and a joy. What now? We set to work. With help, plenty of things to do and the administrative assistance of Régis, we started working, as a team. Three months later the House was inaugurated.
Among the founders and members of the first Directorate: President, Régis Albino Marques Gomes; Vice-President, Ivo LadislauJanicsek; First Secretary, Sandra Braga de Medeiros; Second Secretary, Célia Silva Jachemet; First Treasurer, Luiz FlorêncioCastilhos Albano; and, Second Treasurer, Getúlio Xavier Osório.
Currently, the house serves the same purpose that the old patriarchal house served. In the bygone time of Empire, it was a lodging house for cart drivers, troopers, and their oxen. When the town became a city, it hosted family parties. Then, its owners, the Fonseca family, dispersed and abandoned it. We esteem those that built, conserved and bequeathed this heritage building to all os us, Gravataienses. Now it is also Azorean. Indeed, we say the following when we visit the house of Azores: “I’m going to the Azores” or ” I was in the Azores.”
Among the main activities of CAERGS, we answer inquiries from the public, always bearing in mind that the building is a listed heritage site. The meeting room is made available to the Municipal Councils of Cultural and Tourism Policy whenever it is required. The building is visited by students of different ages and from different types of educational establishment. The House of Azores is often the head-office of cultural events related to literature, history, plastic arts, theater, folklore, and music, among others. In addition, the House has also established cultural partnerships with other municipalities where Azorean historical influences abound, namely, with Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina.