Intramuros was divided into for barrios -San Antonio, San Gabriel, San Carlos and San Luis. Standing side-by-side within each dense and crowded barrio were grand churches, palatial government buildings and Antillan houses or call it glorified bahay-na-bato.
Alas, World War II reduced the magnificence of Intramuros into a wasteland of ash and rubble. The task of picking up the pieces fell to the Intramuros Administration.
In the 1980’s, the agency bought a property across the historic San Agustin Church and constructed five replica houses representing domestic architecture built during the Spanish regime. The complex was aptly named Plaza San Luis – after one of the original four barrios of Intramuros.
The plaza consists of Casa Blanca, Casa Urdaneta, Los Hidalgos, El Hogar Filipino, and Casa Manila. The replica houses where constructed based from archival building plans.
Casa Manila was based on a photograph of a three-storey house in San Nicholas District. Its ground floor houses shops while the second and third floor was conceptualized as a lifestyle museum showcasing colonial furniture amassed from different ancestral houses.
The façade of the middle house along General Luna Street was the site of a restaurant originally called Los Hidalgos hence its name, was based on a photograph of an Intramuros house near San Francisco Church that was originally located just a few blocks away. A fine dine restaurant, Barbara’s now occupies the second floor.
The house that is joyously dressed with neo-classical architectural embelishments at the southern end of the block was based on a house along old Calle Real in Ermita (now M.H. Del Pilar).