Almagro

Almagro

Almagro is one of seven barrios in the district of Chamberí.  Its border on the north is Calle José Abascal, on the east Paseo de la Castellana, on south Calle Génova, and on the west Calle Santa Engracia.  The barrio is home to a number of embassies and art galleries, and has been considered one of the more elegant areas of the city for a number of years.

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The Residencia de Señoritas was founded almost a decade before the Lyceum in 1915 and was located at Calle de Fortuny, 53, where Fundación Ortega-Marañón now stands. The first class had 30 students. It was an important social gathering place for lesbians during the time of its existence until it closed around 1936, and served as the male equivalent of Institución Libre de Enseñanza founded in 1876, and Residencia de Estudiantes founded in 1910. Among the teachers there was Victorina Durán Cebrian. A commemorative plaque is attached to the building where the Residencia once was. Following the end of the Civil War, the residence was repurposed by the Franco regime’s women section, Seccion Femenina. re-opening on 15 February 1940.

Agrupación Femenina Republicana was founded in June 1931 as part of Spanish feminist goals to create a separate space for their own political goals as they were unwelcome in more conservative Republican political organizations. They were founded by Victorina Duran and shared space at the Residencia de Señoritas.

Calle del Marqués de Riscal, 5 contains a plaque to commemorate it as the building where Victoria Kent worked as a lawyer until 1936.

Calle Ponzano, 19 is where Elena Fortún moved with her family in 1919. Before that, she had mostly been based at the home of her mother on at Calle Villanueva, 17. There, she and her husband with whom she was not close, would host a number of tertulias, bringing Fortún into contact with many of the intellectual set of Madrid of the period. Santiago Regidor lived on the second floor. A regular contributor to Blanco y Negro, Fortún developed a friendship with him.

Sección Femenina, founded by Pilar Primo de Rivera before the start of the Civil War, ran an escuela de hogar on Calle del Cisne, now Paseo de Eduardo Dato.  The school instilled traditional values that women were expected to use in the home in service of their husbands, even if the teachers themselves were not necessarily married but working professionally as teachers. Contemporary researchers believe that conservative lesbians, who remained heavily closeted or open while ignored by the regime, were very involved politically gravitated towards Sección Feminina with several high ranking members suspected of being lesbians.  How true some of that is is subject to some conjecture as rumors of homosexuality on the part of women were used to slur them and undermine their position.  Nonetheless, it was one of the few politically active pathways for gender non-conforming single women, a group that included lesbians, in the late 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

Instituto Internacional de Madrid was a school in Madrid. They finished construction on their Boston building, located on Calle de Miguel Ángel, in 1910; funds were initially raised for its construction in January 1903. The first director was Wellesley graduate Susan Huntington, and the school developed a close relationship with Residencia de Señoritas and the Instituto-Escuela. Among its students was Elena Fortún, who studied library science. Another student was Gloria Fuertes, who enrolled in 1953 to study English and library science. There, in 1955, she met Phyliss Turnbull, one of her English teachers. Their meeting started a 15-year relationship between the two, only ending in 1970, a year before Turnbull’s death in 1971.

Antigua Embajada Británica, located at Calle Fernando el Santo, 16, is the location of the old British embassy in Spain. The British used the location from 1966 until 2009.  The building was done in a brutalist and rationalist style by architects W.S. Bryant and Luis Blanco-Soler.  A protest was held in front of the embassy on 21 May 1988 by around 40 gay and lesbians against Thatcher’s clause 28.  Five representatives, one from each group present, chained themselves to the gates of the embassy.  Groups participating included CLFM and COGAM.

The Contencioso-Administrativo del TSJ de Madrid, located at Calle del General Castaños, 1, ruled that Mutualidad General de Funcionarios Civiles del Estado (MUFACE), located at Calle de Modesto Lafuente, needed to pay a single woman from Madrid €597 to cover the costs of medications that had been rejected from public funding because she was single. The judicial ruling implied similar findings should be possible based on sexual orientation.

Partido Popular, located at Calle Genoa, 13, is the political party’s national headquarters. The party traces its history back to that of former Francoists. The party was preceded by Alianza Popular, founded in 1977 and was refounded in its current form in 1989. The party moved into their present location in February 1983. Prior to that, the plot was an orchard that was part of a convent of the Salesian nuns. In February 2021, Partido Popular President Pablo Casado announced his intention to move the headquarters to a new location. As part of the 8 March 2019 International Women’s Day events in Madrid, lesbians made a symbolic visit to the offices of Partido Popular, chanting outside of it, España mañana será lesbiana” while waving rainbow flags and women’s power flags.

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