The 208 hectare Mongofre Nou Estate was purchased by Fernando Rubió Tudurí in 1930 for 200,000 pesetas (€1,200) for hunting, rather than farming. Rubió was born in Barcelona in 1900, his father being Catalan and his mother Menorcan. He made his money in the pharmaceutical industry, founding the Laboratoris Andrómaco in Barcelona in 1923 and later expanding into Portugal and many South American countries, making his the first Catalan multinational company. He moved to New York in the 1940’s and then to Mexico and it was not until the 1950’s that he made Mongofre his main residence.
During his life on the island, Rubió was responsible for many good works, including: the restoration of the Santa Maria’s organ and the purchase of new organs for the Cathedral of Menorca and El Socors Church in Ciutadella; statues of famous Menorcans which were erected in Maó (Pilar Alonso), St. Augustine in the USA (Pare Camps) and others; setting up associations such as the Club Marítim and Ateneu in Maó, Club Nàutic, the Cercle Artístic and Capella Davídica in Ciutadella and the Centre Cultural in Alaior; erecting military monuments and the restoration of Fort Marlborough; religious buildings such as chapels and convents; being a patron of people such as Pere Pruna, Paco Vallejo and Philip Rasico; and help with publishing and the media – he paid for the repeater mast which brought TV3 to the island.
In 1987 he set up the Rubió Tudurí-Andrómaco Foundation to help spread Menorcan culture and the foundation has been responsible for managing the estate since Rubió’s death in 1994. The house is no longer occupied on a permanent basis but is used by one of Rubió’s three children, his daughter Mercedes, for regular breaks from her home in Barcelona.
It is hoped that the house will be opened to small groups of visitors later in the year and it is certainly well worth a visit (as John Wayne and various other famous guests would doubtlessly agree). The views alone would make the 2 km drive along the potholed lane well worthwhile, however it is the house and its lovely small chapel (decorated with paintings by Pere Pruna and dedicated to San Fernando and the Virgen del Toro) that make this fascinating trip stand out as one not to be missed.
Article courtesy of Christine Watterson, Focus on Menorca