A grand and imposing edifice along E.Lopez Street in Jaro is Nelly Garden. It is hard to resist glancing at this white residence as you pass by, reminding all the glory of Iloilo that clearly defies time and all the accompanying struggles and crises. It has become a landmark in Iloilo for years and should be visited when in town.
Built in 1928 by Vicente Lopez y Villanueva and Elena Hofilena y Javelana, “Nelly Garden” is named after their eldest daughter, Nelly. Gardens, a lagoon, pool and a lot of more were accommodated in this 4-hectare property. Think about an estate and it is said that this old house in Iloilo resembles the Tara estate of the classic novel, “Gone with the Wind”.
What it looks like from afar minus the tall white iron gates.
One of the things that fascinate me about old houses in Iloilo is that they are not your typical bahay na bato with its ground flour for rice and other agricultural products storage together with their vehicles. Wealthy families like the hacienderos have a separate place for this. Nelly Garden and other houses in Iloilo are built on solid concrete which is also one of the reasons why it is standing today like a modern construction.
A close-up look at the design of this Beaux-Arts mansion
Then located outside Jaro, away from the busy commercial life in Iznart and Calle Real, Nelly Garden became a venue for the grandest social activities in the city of Iloilo with the most affluent personalities from Manila and other countries in attendance.
Nelly Garden has two sets of stairs.
When the Second World War came, Nelly Garden’s treasures saved it from being burned by the guerillas; it took them long to finish looting the mansion. With the Japanese forces coming, they just left and retreated. Post-world war, fixtures of the house came from Asian travels of family.
Their living room with Lladro porcelain, musical instruments and photographs of the first generation that lived in the house.
There are five suites on the second-floor of the house with most of the original parts like the poster beds still there. This is the view from the veranda.
The grounds that used to have Nelly’s flowers and plants now serves as a venue for their family reunions and private individuals can hold their weddings at Nelly Garden.
Your travel writer will not spill all the beans by showing more photos and revealing more about this beautiful house in Iloilo. You have to check it out yourself. Don’t worry, nothing spooky for scary warts out there. I’ve visited many old houses and this one is just like a regular house but ten-folds bigger.
To set a tour around the house or for other inquiries, visit their Facebook Page