The house of number 39 Barón de San Petrillo Street dates back to 1904. It is one of the most historically interesting houses of Benimaclet, because prominent personalities have passed through it, as the current owner Pepa Nicolau remembers in her own words:
“Blasco Ibañez, Sorolla and Benlliure used to meet here, they were very good friends. Blasco loved Benimaclet and its strawberry fields, that’s why there is a street named “Las Fresas” (the strawberries). He had a friend from Benimaclet called Jovani. Blasco was the godfather of Jovani’s son, who was named Sigfrido, like Blasco’s son.”
Later, the music band known as “La Mano Negra” (The Black Hand) met in this house. (See CIM)
In the late sixties and until the early 1980’s this was the site of the well-known Comercial coffee shop. Mr. Pepe and his son ran it. As a drinking and meeting place, it was very well known in the city of Valencia. Many students used to gather there, since the universities were quite close to Benimaclet. There was a big stage for theatrical performances. Some of them were put on by independent theatre companies like the Experimental Theatre Group of Rodolfo Sirera. People could also watch the football matches broadcast on television every Sunday. The coffee shop provided the classic board and card games, as well, and a French billiard table where sometimes championships were organized.
In the mid-eighties, this house was turned into the Alfabega Restaurant with a cooperative management. It hosted cultural events quite often (exhibitions, musical and theatre performances, etc.) and also tried to stimulate debates and discussions.
In the 1990’s, the famous painter Pepa Nicolau, daughter of Benimaclet, bought this house, and she is still living in it.
“When I realized that this house was on sale and that they might demolish it at any moment (the plan to protect the architectural historic core of Benimaclet had not yet been approved at the time), I bought it to preserve the architectural heritage and the history of this house. I can feel the presence of these persons. They are here with me and I hear their voices.”
Thanks to the sensibility of painter Pepa Nicolau, Benimaclet preserves this historic house.