One feature of the renovations at the Graham’s Lodge has been to improve accessibility for our visitors. As we were beginning alterations to install a lift, we made an unexpected discovery: a water cistern underneath a space near the rear of the building.
Our Lodge is situated near the top of a hill at a bend in the Douro River, and the area is in fact one of the oldest inhabited parts of Vila Nova de Gaia. With the rainy climate here (average rainfall is normally over 1100 mm per year) there are many linhas de agua – that is, natural water run-offs. Over the centuries, many of these have been channeled into man-made canals to capture and use the water, and it seems that when the Lodge was built, this cistern was created to capture rain water for use cooling and cleaning the building.
But it seems that the linha de agua which fed this cistern was blocked upstream many years ago, so at some point it was simply built over to create additional floor space above, hence our surprise when we unearthed it during our work.
Our architects were able to modify the building plans to re-locate the lift and incorporate the cistern as a feature. When you take your tour through the renovated space later this summer, you will be able to see this detail of our Lodge’s history for yourself.