Sitting abandoned on four acres of land in the middle of the town of Lares, Puerto Rico, is a relic of the island’s past. At first glance, it appears to be a deserted house like any other. But if you’re curious enough to take a closer look, you’ll discover the remains of something much bigger.
Near the abandoned house lie the ruins of the first water bottling plant in Puerto Rico. The Mansión Levy (Levy Mansion) complex, also known as La Rambla, was built in 1932 by engineer and architect Don Francisco Levy González. The original goal was to open it as a hotel and casino, but such plans never came to fruition.
Eventually, a new business venture surfaced. Thanks to a natural spring nearby known as Santa Rosa, the building became a water bottling factory. A series of bridges and channels connect the building to the spring in what was a unique engineering feat for the Caribbean at the time. It is believed that the factory is also connected by a system of tunnels leading to several locations in the town of Lares.
Like other historic locations around the island, Levy Mansion has its own myths and legends. One of them tells of a group of men in search of a place to erect a church. Eventually, they agreed to build it over the natural spring, unaware of the water’s existence. A woman in the group warned them about the spring, explaining that any structure built over it would be destroyed. According to the group’s leader, who was a Franciscan friar, she was an angel of God. He also said that the place shall be known as La Rambla and the spring as Santa Rosa. Afterward, the woman vanished and left behind her green halo before the spring burst with water. The legend claims that today, the halo still hovers over the spring at night.
A few years ago, the municipal government of Lares acquired the property with the intention of fulfilling Levy’s original vision of a hotel and casino. But not much progress has been made since then, probably due to the lingering economic crisis that was furthered by Hurricane María in 2017. Today, the site remains abandoned, although construction equipment can be seen scattered all over the place. It’s hard to tell when renovations will resume, but in the meantime, the empty Levy Mansion and the remains of the groundbreaking factory await any curious explorers.
Know Before You Go
The property is located on the way to the town square of Lares. It is hard to find on GPS, so don't hesitate to ask for directions if necessary. Entering the building may be considered trespassing.