Old Convent of San Agustín
The origin of this building goes back to the beginning of the 16th century, when the Adelantado (the governor) thanked the Augustinian Order for its support in the conquest and colonization of the island. A plot of land was donated to them for the church, houses, offices and orchards; and between 1527 and 1560, the building was constructed, fundamentally under the direction of the prior Fray Pedro Grimón, whose family – the Nava Grimón – would be protectors of the convent.
Throughout its history, the building has had multiple functions: convent and church, educational center, boarding school, first weather station and first provincial library. During the Civil War it was a prison of the Spanish Falange; and after that a soup kitchen.
But it is its educational character that has marked the history of the building. Already in 1539 Latin and grammar studies were taught; in 1821 the Literary University of San Fernando was installed; and in 1846 the Secondary School of the Canary Islands was created, being the only one of the islands until 1916. Since the 1940/41 school year, it has been part of the secondary education centre, and its classrooms have trained important men and women from the island scene.
The building was altered and added to after the confiscation of 1836. In 1926, the architect Pelayo López built new pavilions, with a concrete structure, attached to the old convent, on its border with Anchieta Street; in the 1950s, the architect Domingo Pisaca introduced new changes. Between 1993 and 1997, the Government of the Canary Islands and the Cabildo of Tenerife proceeded to restore them. Only the church is pending rehabilitation, as a fire, which occurred on June 2, 1964, left it in a dilapidated state.
Inside the building has one of the best Renaissance cloisters in the Canary Islands. Its two floors combine stone and wood. On the ground floor, each side of the courtyard has seven columns of red stone, Tuscan order, and wooden shoes. In the subsoil were made burials of monks, and illustrious of La Laguna that, at the time, contributed to the support of the convent. Also in the Church are the remains of the historian Juan Nunez de la Peña.
Six chapels were built around the cloister, founded by families, guilds and corporations in the city. Today some vestiges are still visible, such as the Italian-inspired mural paintings that decorate its walls; but these spaces were reused for other purposes after the ecclesiastical disentailment.
On July 25, 1983, the ex-convent of San Agustín was declared an Asset of Cultural Interest, with the category of monument.