Paco Abadal and Mercedes Durán: the first tenants in the Casa Milà- La Pedrera

Familia Abadal Duran
The wedding of Paco Abadal and Mercè Durán (Magazine Stadium. No. 034 .15 Oct.1912)
Familia Abadal Duran
The Abadal Duráns, in their motorcar – an Abadal y Cª – on their way home to Casa Milà. Circa 1914.© Paco Abadal Cultural Association
Familia Abadal Duran
This photograph shows the three generations of the Durán Abadal family. From left to right, in the foreground Mª Luisa Clarà; behind her, on the left, her husband, Joaquim Durán Albert. On the right, Paco Abadal (1875-1939), looking towards the camera, and by his side, his wife, Mercè Durán (1890-1968). Among them are the couple’s children, María Luisa (1914-1968) and Francisco (1916-1989). (The photograph also includes a maid and two other children, probably the offspring of friends and relatives). © Paco Abadal Cultural Association (ACPA) Archive.

The Paco Abadal Cultural Association sent us the story of the Abadal family and their connection with the Casa Milà as the first tenants.

Francisco Serramalera Abadal (later Abadal Serramalera), known as Paco Abadal, was born in Manresa on 28 July 1875. Shortly thereafter his family moved to Barcelona, where they resided in various abodes in the new district of Barcelona, the Eixample.

While at university Paco took up cycling, which was to become a prestigious professional sport at the turn of the century.

Thanks to his success in the sport he amassed a small fortune that in 1902 he used to open the mythical Auto-Garage Central, a workshop and garage for the maintenance, storage and sale of bicycles, motorcycles and motorcars. First located in carrer Consell de Cent, Barcelona, it later moved to carrer Aragò, and was subsequently expanded with other premises in carrer Sepúlveda, Plaça Letamendi and carretera de Sarriá.

Concurrently to his commercial and industrial activity, Paco continued competing in cycling events and later in motorcar and motorcycle racing, in which he also won many trophies

It was at this time that Paco Abadal became acquainted with the Catalan modernist painter Ramón Casas – another motorcar enthusiast – from whom he commissioned a poster to advertise his Auto-Garage Central. Casas would later paint the portraits of his spouse, his children, and Paco himself. Casas also gave him the celebrated picture “Ramon Casas and Pere Romeu in a Motor Car”, which having adorned the wall of the “Els Quatre Gats” tavern was  later hung on the wall of his premises in Plaça Letamendi.

In October 1912 Francisco Abadal married Mercedes Durán, the daughter of the affluent Catalan trader and industrialist Joaquim Durán Albert and his spouse Mª Luisa Clarà, and together they took up residence in a third-floor apartment on the Passeig de Gràcia part of the building, which had been built that year.

Joaquín Durán Albert probably met Pedro Milà through their connection with the Board of the Industrial and Commercial Defence League of Barcelona, an association of tradesmen and small industrialists.

The announcement of the wedding and the couple’s new abode was published in the sports daily El Mundo Deportivo on 10 October 1912: “On the occasion of the grand wedding, the bride and groom received many valuable gifts from the groomsmen Messrs Adolfo Solá Sert, Pedro Homet, Francisco de P. Cantareil and Francisco Laporta, among others.  The gifts consisted of a magnificent Smyrina carpet, fine lamps, a platinum and diamond pendant and a gold and diamond bracelet which, with the wedding dress  made by Casa Jaumar, have been on display at the newlywed’s home, an apartment in the splendid mansion of Gaudí in Passeig Gràcia, which they have tastefully and lavishly furnished. "

As the society note indicates, upon returning from their honeymoon, the couple moved into the first apartment on the third floor, next door to the apartment where the bride’s parents, Joaquín Durán and Mª Luisa Clarà, had already taken up residence. At that time, the apartments of the Casa Milà were highly sought after by Barcelona's high bourgeoisie.

The couple’s first child – María Luisa – was born in La Pedrera in 1914, followed two years later by their second child, Francisco.

The six lived in the Casa Milà until the completion in early 1930 of their new residence, the Abadal Palace, on the corner of Diagonal and carrer de Capità Arenas, designed by the architect Adolf Florensa (1889-1968).

Francisco Abadal Serramalera died in Barcelona on 17 December 1939.


Paco Abadal Cultural Association

Francisco Serramalera Abadal, popularly known as Paco Abadal, was a man of parts from the Catalan bourgeoisie. He excelled both in the sports and in industry and advertising. He began his business career with his company Auto-Garaje Central, followed by F.S. Abadal y Cª and later Abadal y Cª, SL, which became a referent in the automobile industry. Francisco was an expert in vehicle bodywork techniques and owned various premises where he built and assembled motorcars.

In 2013, one hundred years after the creation of the legendary Catalan automobile marque Abadal y Cª  and seventy years since the passing of Paco Abadal, a group of his descendants set up the cultural association that bears his name, in order to pay tribute to the pioneer of Spanish cycling, motorcycling and motorsport.

More information at http://www.pacoabadal.com/