Historic gatehouse at Mexico's Chapultepec Park and 4 other sites get grant for facelift

A 19th-century gatehouse in Mexico City’s Chapultepec Park and the cloistered convents of Seville, Spain are among the five historic sites across the world that are going to get a facelift thanks to grants totaling $1 million.

The World Monuments Fund announced Monday that these two sites along with Rome's Arch of Janus, the Moseley Road Baths in Birmingham, England and the Char Narayan Temple of Nepal will undergo major preservation projects.

Containing nine museums, a zoo, an amusement park and a variety of green recreational spaces, Chapultepec Park in the heart of Mexico City is the oldest and largest public park in Latin America. Through the grant, the park’s 19th-century gatehouse – which once served as entrance to a military school that operated there – will be transformed into a museum and orientation center.

“WMF will work with the Chapultepec Trust to restore this iconic building, which will become an important link between the 19th-century origins of Chapultepec Park and its use in the 21st century as a major cultural and recreation destination for millions of visitors and residents of Mexico City,” the WMF said in a statement.

The maintenance costs of cloistered convents of Seville, Spain, built between the 13th and 17th centuries, are a struggle to keep up with. The fund will work with the city's tourism office to create a guidebook highlighting the historic significance of the 15 convents that exist. And a section of the 14th-century Convent of Santa Ines will be adapted for public use as part of a pilot program.

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The other sites receiving funding are:

- Arch of Janus, one of the remaining buildings of the ancient Roman marketplace Forum Boarium. The arch has been off-limits to the public since 1993, when a car bomb exploded nearby. The funding will support a complete restoration of the monument.

- Moseley Road Baths, an Edwardian swimming complex in Birmingham, England, threatened with closure because of lack of government funds. They are the oldest of only three historic baths in Britain. The funding will help support the complex's advocacy programs.

- A 16th-century Nepalese temple, located in the main square of the city of Patan, was destroyed in last year's massive earthquake. With the grant, 90 percent will be rebuilt with salvaged prices and seismically retrofitted. The magnitude-7.8 earthquake that rattled Nepal last year claimed 9,000 lives, injured 22,000 and decimated 600,000 homes.

All five sites were included last fall on the organization's 2016 World Monument Watch list of historic and cultural places threatened by neglect, overdevelopment or social, political and economic change.

The funding for the five sites is provided by American Express, a longtime supporter of the fund.

“We are grateful for the longstanding support of American Express to the World Monuments Watch,” Joshua David, President and CEO of World Monuments Fund said in a statement. “For over 20 years, they have given more than $16 million to help preserve 160 heritage sites in 70 countries. This generous support has been transformative to these historic sites and our work would not be possible without this significant contribution.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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