The U.S. Embassy in Lisbon represents an example of the historic Portuguese-American friendship dating back to 1791, when the first American Resident Minister in Portugal was officially appointed.
Located on the site of the former “Quinta do Pinheiro” (Travessa do Espírito Santo, 8) the building faces the Avenida das Forças Armadas.
In designing the new building – which was built by the Portuguese construction firm Ilídio Monteiro – the leading American architectural firm Fred Bassetti and Company was particularly careful in keeping the new construction in harmony with the prevailing landscaping of the “Quinta do Pinheiro”. The building’s most striking features are the roof’s eaves which are in the Antiga Portuguesa style and the concrete facades and marble finishings.
During the first two centuries of its existence, the American Legation, which became an Embassy in 1944, was located in several places including the residence of the Count of Olivais (now the American Ambassador’s official residence), and in the building of the former Superior Colonial School. From 1922 to 1983 it was first located at Rua Santana à Lapa, and later at Avenida Duque de Loulé. The Embassy moved to its present location on July 18, 1983.
“Quinta do Pinheiro”
The existing buildings on the property date back to the XVII century and were used as a monastery before being acquired by the Dukes of Cadaval in the early XVIII century. The tiles in the chapel- which were transferred to the Chancery’s main entrance-date from the XVIII century and are still well preserved. The buildings were partially destroyed by the 1755 earthquake and remained in that condition for almost a century. Nonetheless, the Quinta do Pinheiro was the stage for the first performance of Almeida Garrett’s play Frei Luís de Sousa on the 4th of July, 1843. At the time the name “little theater” appeared in many documents and literary works to describe the property. In 1850 the estate was purchased and partially restored by Jorge O’Neil. Hans Christian Andersen, who spent some time with the O’Neils, described the manor house as a “low two-storied building, charming, if somewhat decadent.”
The Espírito Santo Silva family purchased the estate in 1910 and had it thoroughly restored. A third story was added to the main house, the ceilings and the floors of which were decorated with Brazilian wood, especially purchased for this purpose.