For several generations, a beautiful building is situated at the Madurostraat in the center of Punda: Casa Moderna. Hidden behind iron roller shutters, there is a lady who suffered a bit, but is still gracious. As one of the few in her street, she still has her original façade, with authentic windows and her four floors. Four floors full of history and broken dreams, all hidden under a layer of dust.
Casa Moderna is well known to a lot of the local inhabitants of Curacao. For generations, shoes were sold here, shoes of the latest fashion. When I go to the documentationcenter of the library to get more information, the lady behind the desk tells me she remembers that she used to visit Casa Moderna a lot with her mother. The lady that owned the store sat in a wheelchair, that left a great impression to her as a child. She wondered if this lady could ever go to the floors above of her own store.
When she visited the store with her own children years later, it wasn’t the luxurious store it was before. The store extended its collection with clothes and beauty products and didn’t distinguish itself anymore from the other stores in the city. She isn’t surprised when I tell her that Casa Moderna was closed at the beginning of 2014 after 45 years.
The name of the Madurostraat finds its origin in 1937. At the centenary of the firm S.E.L. Maduro & Sons, the Government has renamed a piece of the Prinsenstraat – from De Ruyterplein up till Columbusstraat – to Madurostraat. In the 1930’s it was also called “Calle de los Principes”, what literally means Prinsenstraat in Spanish. This was because a lot of tourists came from Spanish speaking countries at that time.
At that time, this street was a true “Shopping Mall”. A word that didn’t exist at the time in our vocabulary, but the principle – a concentration of several shops – did exist and took place in Madurostraat. Casa Moderna opened her doors in 1969. Mister Zalman Josub – born in 1905 in Savani, Romania – was a true merchant. Adventurous as he was, he settled in 1930 at Curacao and received the Dutch nationality in 1953. With his wife Manja Josub, he started Casa Moderna in 1969 which became well known at Curacao in a short period of time. When he died in 1976, his son Willy Aron Josub, born in 1948, took over the business of his father. He ran the store with his wife until they closed in 2014.
When I enter the building, and see the enormous space at the ground floor I am immediately impressed. The classic tile floor, wood paneling, the high ceiling, it has a stately appearance. The back wall seems to have a ‘blind door’ which leads to a storage space with shelves up to the ceiling. The upper floors turn out to also have multiple shelves, with a rail for the sliding wooden ladders on wheels. The stock must have been endless; the amount of storage is enormous.
At the third floor, there is a pulley. Through warehouse doors at the rear of the building, the new stock could be moved to the three floors. The supply could take place during the day, without having to move the new stock through the store itself. Most of the stock was sold, but I find a small box. Some spare tiles for the floor downstairs, a portrait of former Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard. The journey to the upper floor was an adventure. Nowadays UniArte is located at Casa Moderna, which connects (young) artists.
Whenever I walk by Casa Moderna, I always look through windows and still admire her beauty. It was a priviledge to get to know her a bit better…
With thanks to Manon Hoefman.