Villa Passos, which today houses the John Dos Passos Cultural Center’s head office, was built in the nineteenth century and was estate of the writer’s family. Later on, it was home to the Ponta do Sol Parish Council and the Municipality Library. In 1996, on the hundredth anniversary of John Dos Passos’ passing, the idea for the construction of the Center emerged. However, the Regional Government only purchased the property in 2000. The restoration process began and there was an effort to maintain the original features as much as possible. On September 20th, 2004, the President of the Regional Government of Madeira, Dr Alberto João Jardim, inaugurated the Center. The ceremony counted with the presence of Lucy Dos Passos Coggin who, accompanied by her husband and daughter, was present on the tribute made to her father, John Dos Passos, the distinguished writer.
Besides the Administrative Services and the Permanent Exhibition “John Dos Passos: Life and Work”, the Villa Passos accommodates the following four spaces:
• Dra Carmo da Cunha Santos Library
The John Dos Passos Cultural Center has a library, the Dra. Carmo da Cunha Santos Library, which holds a diverse bibliographical collection, both in terms of subject content and authors’ nationality. It possesses periodic publications, non-book material and some books in Braille. The majority of the books can be borrowed. The collection consists of approximately 6000 books, all donated by several public entities, namely the United States Embassy in Lisbon, FLAD, among others, and by private individuals such as Lucy Dos Passos Coggin, John Dos Passos’ daughter, and Maria do Carmo da Cunha Santos, until now the main donor.
This library is of free access and contains the following services: referencing service, periodical publications service, research support service, selective information dissemination service, borrowing service and photocopy service. There is also a youth literature section dedicated/directed to the younger audience.
• John Randolph Dos Passos Collections Room
Born in Ponta do Sol in 1812, eighteen-year-old Manoel Joaquim Dos Passos emigrated to the USA in 1830. He lived in Baltimore and Philadelphia and married Ann Cattell. Within his large offspring, there was John Randolph Dos Passos (1844-1917), a lawyer married to Lucy Addison Sprigg (internationally renowned writer John Dos Passos’ parents). It is in this room, which bears his name, that the most important monographic collection of the Cultural Center is concentrated.
Its collection is composed by active bibliography (John Dos Passos’ work) and passive bibliography (work about John Dos Passos, or which refers to him). It contains John Dos Passos’ work translated into eighteen languages, including Portuguese, English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Hungarian, Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croat, Finnish, Japanese, Slovenian, Swedish, Romanian, Greek, Danish and Dutch. As it is the most important collection of the Cultural Center, the Special Collections Room is of restricted access and of ‘in presence’ consultation.
• 19th Century Bedroom
The bedroom of the John Dos Passos Cultural Center (named Manoel Joaquim Dos Passos) is a museum space dedicated to John Dos Passos’ grandparents. The furniture includes the bed with low posts, a bedside table, a dresser and a washstand in Madeira mahogany. There is a crucifix, a painting of the Holy Family and another in clay, a manual sewing machine, small toiletry items of the 19th century and a collection of soap dishes and porcelain jars of the same period in faience from the Fábrica d’Alcantra and a Lily of the Valley collection by Ironstone.
• 19th Century Kitchen
Also of a museum space nature, this Madeiran traditional kitchen follows the style of the beginning of the 19th century and features a wood-fire oven. It contains utensils such as a bread kneader, a wooden board, petroleum lamps, iron pots and a couscous maker, which are typical of the regional culture. Besides these objects there is a collection of porcelain from Sacavém. Through the pictures hanging on the wall, visitors have the possibility to view the whole process of making bread and baking it on the wooden oven.
In association with the Casa do Povo of Ponta do Sol, “In the kitchen with John Dos Passos” workshops have been organized in specific dates related to regional gastronomy and customs.
The John Dos Passos Cultural Center auditorium hosts a wide range of activities every year. From music to theatre, cinema sessions, conferences, colloquia, and educational activities.
It has a 180 seats capacity and has counted with the presence of renowned figures of the Portuguese theatre, such as Ruy de Carvalho, Marina Mota, Ana Bola and Florbela Queiroz.
Regional Directorate for Culture
Rua do Príncipe D. Luís, n.º 3
9360-218 Ponta do Sol
(+351) 291 974 034
(+351) 291 974 036
Monday to Friday: 09.00-12.30 and from 14.00-17.30
Closed: Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays.