The “Kalamari estate” is located at the village of Chrousa in the Cycladic prefecture of Ano Syros. It is comprised of two pieces of real estate inherited by Nicholas Calas, an important figure in the culture and literary scene of Greece, a poet, theoretical essayist, academic teacher and art critic. He was the founder of the small in membership but dynamic greek surrealist group, made up of Andreas Empeirikos, Nikos Gatsos, Odysseas Elitis, Nicos Egonopoulos and Nanos Valaoritis. While in Paris, he was part of the French surrealist circle and, after settling in the U.S. in 1940, he remained to the end of his life (11-12-1988) closely involved with the artistic circles of New York. After the death, in 04-10-1990, of his wife Helena, née von Hoerselman, Calas’ art collection and archives were donated to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and to its director Steingrim Laursen. In 1999 the Calas Archives were transferred to Athens and are now sheltered in the Nordic Library. As regards the Chrousa estate, its fate followed a different course and it was donated to the Greek Public Administration in 2001.
The architectural wealth which one encounters in the capital of Syros, Hermoupolis, is renown. A great number of buildings stand as representative specimens of the neo-classical architecture of the 19th century, designed and constructed by Bavarian architects and Greek engineers such as Weiler, Erlacher, Ziller, Vlisidis, and Εlefteriadis and decorated by local and foreign painters.
It is worth pointing out that the architectural tradition of Hermoupolis was continued, in the latter half of the 19th century in the island’s villages, such as Poseidonia, Chrousa, Parakopi and Piskopio, where the imposing country homes of the moneyed upper-class still survive, surrounded by landscaped gardens and cobble-stoned yards. One such building is the poet’s residence which includes a two-story stone house (1857) and its surrounding field.
The current state of the building is far from good. Indifference, ongoing trespassing and acts of vandalism (with the removal of paintings, pieces of furniture, chandeliers etc.) in addition to the weather conditions and to the passing of time, are all factors working to its detriment at an ever increasing pace. The well crafted ceiling frescoes, some decorated with geometric motifs and others with sea deities, women’s visages and representations of a variety of produce, are in imminent danger of destruction. It is more than likely that the roof’s state of disrepair will, unfortunately, cause further damage to the ceilings, walls and floors.
Last October, the Central Council of Contemporary Monuments declared the Calas Residence a historically preservable monument and piece of artwork. This, in effect, constitutes the first step towards its salvation; it is now a matter of urgency that the Ministry of Culture, as well as the local Municipality, take action for its restoration and for creating the necessary conditions for the estate to be made operational as a cultural center or as a residential forum of open dialogue on contemporary art-forms.