The Museu Nacional do Teatro is housed in several buildings inside one of the most important properties located between Lumiar and Paço do Lumiar, in the former Quinta do Lumiar.
The noble Houses, garden and farm (with a vegetable garden, vineyards and olive grove) better known after the 18th century as Propriedade do Monteiro-Mor do Reino have had their boundaries and name changed over the centuries. They were at times united with, or disconnected from, adjacent properties, to the East (the noble Houses, garden and farmland with vegetable garden and fruit grove belonging to the Marquis of Angeja and subsequently to the Dukes of Palmela, where the Museu Nacional do Traje has been housed since 1976); and to the West (the common Houses and the Quinta dos Quartos, which belonged to Canon João José Soveral Pina e Barbuda in the 18th century).
The buildings and the botanical, forestry and farming areas of these three old properties were reunited in the 19th century under the designation Quinta do Lumiar.
In the 17th century, the houses and the farm, which were acquired by the Monteiros-Mors in the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century, formed part of an entail owned by António Luís Beja de Noronha, who was married to D. Isabel de Castro, which was inherited by his only maiden daughter and heir D. Teresa Antónia de Castro e Beja, who married to D. João Teotónio de Almeida. These noble houses and farm were inherited by her son D.António de Beja Noronha e Almeida, and were then sold to D. Fernão Teles da Silva in the 18th century.
The latter’s wife, D. Josefa de Melo, had already lived here with her first husband D. António de Noronha (brother of the Marquis of Angeja who lived in the adjacent property).
Since she was the only heir to the “House” and to the post of Monteiro-Mor, allocated to the Melos in the 16th century, the post was transferred to her first husband and then to the second. By 1762, the son from this last marriage, Francisco de Melo, Monteiro-Mor, was the owner of the houses and farm in 1762. By 1778, these already belonged to his son, Fernando José de Melo, also Monteiro-Mor. He was succeeded by his son, Francisco José Luís de Melo, who married in 1788, and died a year later leaving no descendants. The “House” and the post of the Monteiros-Mor were transferred to a cousin co-brother of his father, Francisco de Melo da Cunha de Mendonça e Menezes (1761-1821), 1st Marquis of Olhão and 1st Earl of Castro-Marim, appointed Monteiro-Mor, in 16 February 1789.
Between 1807 and 1825, the Property was officially recognised as belonging to the Bishop Inquisitor General, D. Carlos da Cunha, brother of the 1st Earl of Castro-Marim and 1st Marquis of Olhão. Between 1826 and 1828, the property belonged to Pedro de Melo da Cunha Mendonça e Meneses, 2nd Marquis of Olhão (7th Monteiro-Mor owner of the Houses and the Farm) who sold it to Henrique Teixeira de Sampaio, 1st Earl of Póvoa, Baron of Teixeira, married to D. Luísa Maria Rita Baltasar de Noronha, great grand daughter of the 3rd Marquis of Angeja (who commissioned from Domingos Vandelli the Botanical Garden in the property adjacent to this one, towards Lumiar, in the property which was called Propriedade do Marquês de Angeja between the 18th and 19th century).
Between 1833 and 1837, the previous Propriedade do Monteiro-Mor belonged to the 2nd Earl of Póvoa, D. João Maria de Noronha Sampaio (1826 -1837). In 1837, upon his death, it was inherited by his sister D. Maria Luísa de Sampaio Noronha, (who had married D. Domingos António Pedro de Sousa Holstein, Earl of Calhariz, later 2nd Duke of Palmela, on 3 July 1836).
Later, on 6 October 1840, D. Maria Luísa de Noronha Sampaio and D. Domingos de Sousa e Holstein acquired the noble houses and the farm located at the beginning of Azinhaga da Fonte, in the parish of S. João Baptista do Lumiar, which belonged to the widow of the 6th Marquis of Angeja and to the daughters and grand daughters of the 4th Marquis of Angeja, and these were annexed to the Propriedade do Monteiro-Mor. The new owners carried out refurbishment works to these residences which they used for leisure purposes and to where they moved in the Spring to enjoy the fresh air of Lumiar or to hold one of their society parties. They are also said to have embellished the gardens with statues, lakes and botanic species. Their children, the 3rd Dukes of Palmela, D.Maria Luísa de Sousa e Holstein and D.António de Sampaio e Pina de Brederode showed a preference for the main building of the Propriedade do Monteiro-Mor as reported in the O Diário Illustrado newspaper nº582, of 15.IV.1874:
« The Quinta do Lumiar is currently owned by the Dukes of Palmella, who inherited it from the Earl of Povoa, maternal grand father of the present Duchess. Besides the main palace, a stately residence where the first and second Dukes of Palmella hosted balls which are still remembered today with nostalgia by our high society, there is another construction in the centre of the property, a more modest, smaller property called the Palácio do Monteiro-Mor. This is the palace reproduced in our newspaper and it is where the present Dukes live whenever they are in residence at Lumiar. ». The article mentioned here includes a sketch by João Maria Leotte, where one can see the palace with its Clock Tower, three female figures wearing period costumes and another almost imperceptible female figure, which is accompanying the one that is going inside the house.
In the 20th century, this was also the residence of the penultimate owner, D. Maria José Sousa e Holstein Beck (Marchioness of Tancos) before she took up residence at the Palácio Angeja-Palmela. The Palácio Monteiro-Mor was then rented for a short period as the residence of the Minister Plenipotentiary of Ireland, and then, as the residence of the Chargé d’Affaires of Morocco between the end of 1958 and March 1969, when the building was devastated by fire.
This remarkable building underwent changes several times between the 18th and the 20th centuries, as can be seen from the architectural Planta do Lumiar e Ameixoeira, drafted by Brigadier Maximiano José da Serra and dated 1827.
The house which is marked Palácio do Marquês de Olhão, was U shaped, and the location of the access to this property was different to the present one. Could it have undergone works after this date which changed the plan so radically? It is reported to have stood empty after it was purchased by the Earl of Póvoa and until his death between 1829 and 1833.
The building which exists today spans over two floors. On the South elevation the first floor is marked by window openings, framed lintels, matched by an equivalent number on the ground floor, while the ones on the noble floor have balconies with iron railings, in the older part of the building. At the centre, there is an old entrance door, beautifully topped with a fronton, composed of an inclined vase, amphora, rake, pitchfork, leaves and flowers, with roses standing out, all typical elements of a farm house. Between the house and the road, there is a boxwood garden with the usual water bowl. The flower beds contain a rose garden planted at the time of the restoration of the Parque Botânico do Monteiro-Mor, which extends until the orchard. The main entrance into the building is from the Eastern side through the Clock Tower, an elaborate construction back to back with what seems to be the old building, which stands out both horizontally and vertically. The main entrance is preceded by an enormous terrace surrounded by a balcony with iron railings, from where it is possible to view and enjoy other areas of the Park.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Dukes of Palmela requested permission from the Câmara Municipal de Lisboa to build a kitchen on the ground floor. This is where the cafeteria/restaurant of the Museu Nacional do Teatro is located today. In 1957, permission was also sought from the Câmara Municipal de Lisboa to carry out changes inside the building which included on the ground floor: a large lobby area, a hall, a living room, a dining room, a bedroom, a laundry and ironing area, a storage area, two walk-in kitchen cupboards and two pantries, a kitchen, a breakfast room, and the heating room. Changes to the first floor included: a large living room, two sitting rooms, a dining room, six bed rooms, two walk-in cupboards, three bathrooms, a pantry and a storage area. It is likely that this project was implemented and that this was the layout of the building when it burnt down in 1969.
In 1975, the State purchased from D. Isabel Sousa e Holstein Campilho what was left of the building, together with the other buildings and 11 hectares of the Quinta do Lumiar, and this remained unchanged until 1982.
The Museu Nacional do Teatro was set up under Decree-law nº 241/82, of 22 June. Art.º 6 read: «The Museu Nacional do Teatro will be housed at the Palácio do Monteiro-Mor and its dependencies, while dependent extensions can be set up in other geographical regions, namely through protocols with other public or private entities ».
It was then that planning began on the works required to install the Museum under the guidance of architect Joaquim Cabeça Padrão, with the cooperation of museum expert Dr. Vítor Pavão dos Santos.
Between 1982 and 1985, the building was reconstructed with a new interior layout: large exhibition areas, archives and library, storage, auditorium, offices, cafeteria/ restaurant, with the objective of housing the Museu Nacional do Teatro, which was inaugurated on 4 February 1985.
Autoria do texto : Ana Arez