Casa Arias, Casco Antiguo
Constructed in 1931 and overlooking the Pacific entrance to the inter-oceanic canal, Casa Arias is the former home of Tomás Arias, a founder and the first president of the Republic of Panama. Finished in lavish Italian marble and hand-carved mahogany, this historic residence remains a point of interest on the tourist maps of Panama's Casco Antiguo, a UN-declared world heritage site. At three floors and 9,000 square feet, the structure houses two finished apartments that are rented out to offset Earth Train's operational costs, as well as owners' quarters, fully-stocked library from the owners' private collection, sunlit reading room, living room, an elegant marble-walled dining room, an ornate second-floor pillared balcony, three extra intern bedrooms and a shared kitchen; a shared rooftop terrace for small events and gatherings, or just a nice evening dinner; a wide open atrium appropriately draped with a diverse array of dangling and potted plants brought from the Mamoní Valley Preserve, and punctuated by a tree reaching up through the center toward the open sky; the new Junglewood Gallery; and the Junglewood Art Studio.
It is Earth Train's city cultural center, as well as the base camp for our intern program. A mere 40 feet from one of the most visited museums in the Americas - the Museum of the Interoceanic Canal - Casa Arias is a multi-cultural gathering place that unites students, young professionals, civic and cultural leaders, and policy makers. Casa Arias is being developed for seminars and special events including indigenous film and art showings, among which is the monthly Gallery show started by - and featuring - the Junglewood Gallery.
Casco Antiguo, in accordance with regulations imposed by its status as a UNESCO world heritage site, has strict rules about building projects. Therefore, the restoration of Casa Arias was a particular challenge - and made worse by its recent purgatory as a cheap backpacker hotel. While we still have a ways to go, the house has been renovated in accordance with UNESCO guidelines, and luckily, much of its original charm and feel has been liberated from the carelessly placed concrete cage of the hotel.
Explore Earth Train
Learn about the Center for Biodiversity Research, the California Academy of Sciences and the important role tha each plays in helping Earth Train map the Mamoní Valley.
Learn about Earth Train, our programs, the Mamoní Valley Preserve and more in our Mamoní Valley Programs Report by Nathan Gray and Líder Sucre.
View our New Mamoní Valley Presentation (pdf) and see what Earth Train is all about.