National Poet Remigio Crespo Toral

In October 2013, the World Monuments Fund added the Remigio Crespo Toral Museum in Cuenca to its list of important historical and cultural sites considered to be at risk of deterioration and in need of restoration. Housed in the former home of Ecuadorian writer and poet Remigio Crespo Toral (1860-1939), the museum has a wealth of historical and cultural artifacts relating to Ecuador, and more specifically to Cuenca. Working with the World Monuments Fund, in 2014 local authorities will be undertaking a major restoration project for this magnificent 32-roomed structure and the valuable artifacts it contains.

Remigio Crespo Toral was born into a prominent family of Cuenca on August 4, 1860. He attended school in the town and later studied law at the University of Cuenca, obtaining a law degree in 1886. In the 1880s he became a journalist, writing under the pseudonym of ‘Stein’, and in 1894 was appointed as Director of Studies of Azuay Province, of which Cuenca is the capital. In 1905, during the first presidential term of Leónidas Plaza y Gutiérrez de Caviedes, Crespo Toral served as a defense lawyer for Ecuador in its diplomatic conflict with Peru.

Crespo Toral’s book Cien años de emancipación was published in 1909 to commemorate a centenary of independence, adding to his other works which included Últimos pensamientos de Bolívar, Mi Poema, and América y España. In 1913 he was instrumental in the founding of Cuenca’s first bank, Banco del Azuay, which was headed up by Federico Malo Andrade. By decree of President Alfredo Baquerizo Moreno, in 1917 Crespo Toral was declared ‘national poet’ at a ceremony attended by virtually the entire population of Cuenca, including the President and Ambassadors of Belgium, Chile, Peru, the United States and others.

In 1919, together with Alfonso Moreno Mora, Crespo Toral founded the literary contest La Fiesta de la Lira, and in 1925 he was appointed as Rector of the University of Cuenca, where he had obtained his law degree in 1886. He remained in that post until he passed away in his home town on July 8, 1939.