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I met the manager of the centenary building where Pope Francis cut his hair.

There is only one man who can attest to how little things have changed over the years in the Roverano
Stories of ordinary people
23 January, 2020

The current Roverano Passage was inaugurated in 1918, replacing an earlier building that was demolished to give way to the Mayo Avenue. This large eclectic office center, with a renowned shopping arcade, is a passage linking Avenida de Mayo with Hipólito Yrigoyen , and it is said to have many curious secrets. But there’s a man who knows them all.

Habits that last for decades

Over the past 41 years, Omar Ruiz has arrived at 7 a.m. to open the doors of the historic building and supervise the entrance until its closure and then return home. He began as an elevator assistant at the age of 17 (with old wrought iron models) and then took on the role of manager, a typical occupation, which consists of being a caretaker who watches over the general operation of the building.

“ I like it here,” he says. “I spent more time here than in my own house and I already know everything by heart: every movement of the building, every face that comes in and out. It is a building with a lot of activity,” he continues. It is also responsible for receiving and classifying each delivery of mail and resolving any inconvenience that the building may have. “There is much less correspondence now, but old mailboxes are still in use. The building didn’t change. And that’s fine, because it’s a historical icon and it really was all built to last,” he says.

The secrets of the Roverano

Its central hall was used to shoot several films, including La Señal (starring Ricardo Darín ) and more recently a film about the life of Pope Francis, who when he was the bishop of Buenos Aires used to cut his hair in the buildingbarbershop (a place that beyond a change of owner did not have a single aesthetic modification in decades). Another curiosity that many do not know: the Roverano has its own entrance to the subway of Buenos Aires. Yeah, you go down a few stairs and that’s it, you’re heading for Peru Station on line A.

And there’s still a lot to discover

“ One day I was spending time with a magnet and I noticed that there were some parts of the railings that remained stuck and others did not. I started scrubbing and polishing and discovered that there were areas painted black that were not iron but bronze.” How did the story follow? Omar decided to remove all the paint and restore all the railings to regain their splendour essence.


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