After buying 1680 hectares of a fiscal surplus, Carlos Gesell began to build his own house in the middle of that sandy area facing the sea. Today marks the 88th anniversary of the beginning of that history that became the present: the one generated from the founding of the Villa.
Today there are asphalt, long-distance buses and routes that connect this city of 50 thousand inhabitants with the main urban centers of the country. But exactly 88 years ago (just a "little while" within the millenary history of humanity), this was nothing more than a sandy area of living dunes that only a madman like Carlos Gesell thought of buying.
It was the fiscal surplus of a measurement of lands that belonged to old estancias located in the region. Concentrated on the agricultural exploitation, their owners despised the strips of dunes leaning to the sea because they considered them unproductive. And it was true: it cost old Gesell a great sacrifice to make the green give birth amid so much yellow sand.
To build his dreams, he first built his house. That was from December 14, 1931, date set as the foundation of what later became known as Parque Idaho, later Villa Silvio Gesell, and finally Villa Gesell.
That place, which runs from the southern end of Samborombón Bay to Mar Chiquita, was then a desolate sandy area of dunes, of dunes in permanent movement due to the action of the wind. Carlos Idaho Gesell, who was 40 years old at the time, came from a family of German immigrants dedicated to the sale of furniture and articles for babies and children, among other products.
In search of land to plant pine trees to supply his factory, he learned of the existence of those lands: 10 kilometers of coastline and 1600 meters deep, pure sand. The purchase, in August 1931, unleashed a small family storm, but the man - who had carried out ventures of various kinds, several inventions among them - was convinced that he could extract plant life from those sterile masses of sand.
It is on this date that he began to build his house on a 9-meter dune, about 100 meters from the sea. Three weeks later it had the form that is known today: the house with four doors, one towards each cardinal point, which allowed access to the house indistinctly in case the accumulation of sand prevented any entry. Also noteworthy is the insulation system, plastered wooden double walls, whose gap is filled with newspaper. The city's Museum and Historical Archive currently works there.
In the mid-1940s, the area not only showed a remarkable growth of trees such as acacias, pines, esparto and clovers, planted by Gesell himself, but it was also beginning to be a stable town and a reference for tourism. It was also a meeting point, in the 60s and 70s, for the young intelligentsia of the time, very well reflected by Rodolfo Kuhn in the filmThe young old.
Carlos Gesell died at the age of 88 in the German Hospital in Buenos Aires, when he still dreamed of afforesting 20 hectares of the Sahara desert. His remains rest near those dunes that he tamed, in the cemetery of the Villa.
By Juan Ignacio Provéndola | Pulsogesellino