Flavio Santos apresenta Paulo Felisberto Peixoto da Fonseca: um homem bom

Comendador Paulo Peixoto. Revista Beira Mar. 1938.

Comendador da Ordem do Cruzeiro do Sul e amigo dos necessitados. Nascido em 14 de dezembro de 1864, esse português da cidade de Barcelos chegou ao Brasil em 1875. Mais uma das futuras grandes fortunas da colônia portuguesa no Brasil desembarcou aqui com apenas dez anos e aos dezessete já se aventurava como negociante no comércio carioca.

Nos anos 80 do século XIX começou realmente sua vida empresarial, inicialmente foi revendedor e representante do Café Minerva, com seu negócio na rua da Passagem, n.57, no bairro de Botafogo, zona sul carioca. Com 18 anos entrava em uma sociedade para administrar um pequeno armazém de secos e molhados na rua Dona Polixena (atual rua Arnaldo Quintela), n.14, no mesmo bairro, em 1882. No final do ano de 1883 assumia o comando do armazém de secos e molhados da firma Fonseca & Silva, da rua da Passagem, n.57.

Com o sócio Alberto dos Santos Ribeiro de Carvalho abre uma nova firma, Alberto de Carvalho & C., no ano de 1887, no mesmo endereço em Botafogo. Em 1889 era reconhecido como negociante distinto na praça do Rio de Janeiro.

Comemoração do fim da 1.a etapa dos trabalhos no Bairro Peixoto. Revista Beira Mar. 1942.

Já era proprietário de alguns imóveis na zona sul do Rio, mas foi na primeira década do século XX, que começaram as aquisições de terrenos que posteriormente seriam unidos em uma chácara, entre os morros de São João e dos Cabritos. Lutou com a burocracia através de requerimentos de título de aforamento de terrenos de marinha do bairro carioca de Copacabana, endereçados ao então Ministro da Marinha do Brasil do governo Rodrigues Alves, Júlio César de Noronha. Era o embrião do que hoje conhecemos como “Bairro Peixoto”. Falaremos sobre isso adiante.

No final de 1918 fez sociedade com Balthazar da Silva Pereira na casa bancária Peixoto & C., com sede na rua da Alfândega, n.12 e filial na rua General Câmara, n.24, ambas no centro do Rio. Foi acionista das companhias de seguros Vigilância e Bonança, do Banco Colonizador e Agrícola, conselheiro da Companhia Industrial e Mercantil de Olaria. Salvo engano, por existir um homônimo no boletim do Grande Oriente do Brasil, foi maçom desde o século XIX.

Comendador Paulo Peixoto. Revista Beira Mar. 1943.

Voltando ao assunto do Bairro Peixoto. Por não ter descendentes diretos, o comendador resolveu dividir, em 15 de junho de 1938, sua chácara em Copacabana entre cinco instituições de caridade: Sociedade Portuguesa de Beneficência do Rio de Janeiro, Associação Asilo São Luís, Caixa de Socorros D. Pedro V, Hospital Nossa Senhora das Dores e a Casa dos Expostos. Entretanto, determinou que os terrenos não deveriam ser usados para fins comerciais e suas futuras construções não poderiam ter mais que três pavimentos. Além disso, destinou uma parte do terreno para construção de uma praça.

O governo português o condecorou com a Grã-Cruz de Benemerência em junho de 1940, no salão nobre da embaixada de Portugal, na rua São Clemente, bairro de Botafogo, com recepção organizada pelo embaixador Martinho Nobre de Mello.

Comendador Paulo Peixoto na Policlínica de Botafogo - Clinica Dentária. Revista Beira Mar. 1936.

 Frequentador dos gabinetes das autoridades e dos salões dos poderosos, foi provedor da irmandade da Penha, grande doador para o Hospital Santa Cruz de Niterói, membro das diretorias da Caixa de Socorros Dom Pedro V e da Beneficência Portuguesa, foi benemérito do Asilo São Luiz. Fez contribuições generosas (em dinheiro e apólices) para a Casa da Infância, Abrigo Cristo Rei, Liga Brasileira para Tuberculose, Santa Casa da Misericórdia do Rio,  Policlínica de Botafogo, Sociedade de Assistência aos Lázaros. Muitas outras doações em dinheiro para instituições de caridade localizadas nos estados brasileiros e em Portugal.

Comendador Paulo Peixoto recebe Grã-Cruz. Revista Beira Mar. 1940.

Um monumento em sua homenagem foi inaugurado em dezembro de 1944, na praça Edmundo Bittencourt, de autoria de Honório Peçanha, confeccionado pela fundição Zani. O estimado filantropo faleceu no dia 3 de novembro de 1947 na sua residência na rua Toneleros.

Planta do futuro Bairro Peixoto. Revista Beira Mar. 1939.
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