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Urban planning engineer, Sugar Baron



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Last update: 23/09/2015

By: Virginia Barbosa - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

French engineer Pierre Victor Boulitreau was born in Paris on 21 May 1812.

He began his engineering studies at the Conservatory of Arts and Crafts and concluded at the Polytechnic School, both in his native city, in 1834.

His move to Pernambuco is linkedwith the government of Francisco do Rego Barros - Baron, Viscount and Count of Boa Vista - which, to modernize Recife, planned and executed various works. Some of them included the French engineers Pierre Victor Boulitreau and Louis-LégerVauthier.

Indeed, the concern with the restoration of Recife proposed by the Count reflected the influence he had received while he was in Paris doing his bachelor degree in mathematics, and also that from the French who flocked to the ‘Mauritian City’ (Recife), back in 1840, with their shops and culture;the time when Boulitreau and Vauthier came to Recife.

Boulitreau lived in Recife from September 1840 to October 1882. During part of this period (1840-1844), he worked as chief engineer of the municipality, being responsible for the urban plan of Recife. The list of his professional contribution is extensive: Apipucos, Caxangá and Vitoria de Santo Antão roads; expansion of the city Nova de Santo Amaro;levellingof houses and old streets of Recife; reform of some churches in the Pernambuco countryside; the Tribunal de Relação(Relations Court) building; the College's Quay (in the vicinity of the Santa RitaQuay);Recifepavements; the three residences of Mrs MariaPeretti (in the neighborhood of Caxangá); the Pernambuco AcademyofLettersbuilding;ManguinhosPalace; the residence of the Count of Boa Vista (now occupied by the Department of Public Safety). He also built the manor houses of the sugarcane plantationsCahypió (Ipojuca, PE), SãoJoão and SãoCaetano (in the municipality of Cabo de Santo Agostinho), the latters he acquired from the Baron of Vera Cruz, ManoelJoaquimCarneiro da Cunha, allowing him to becomea sugar baron in Pernambuco.

This change of activity – from urban planning engineer to sugar baron – came after Boulitreau terminated contracts with the State and the City (1844).
The manor house of São João plantation and sugar cane mill was designed and created by him. There, he installed a pioneering copper pot. Later, at the request of the Count of Boa Vista, he installed another one in the São Francisco plantation (which is now owned by the painter and sculptor Francisco Brennand). He also introduced a technique that revolutionized the old processes of the sugar cane industry, creating a device for the preparation of sugar.

Boulitreau was also a pioneer in the Abolition of Slavery, whenin 1837, he granted some of his slaves the “Papel de Liberdade” (Letter of Freedom), at a time when nobody else was thinking about the issue. This was a reflection of his liberal upbringing.

Regarding his personal life,Boulitreaumarriedhis first wife,LouizeMarie Juliane, in Paris, and had a son, Carlos Julio Boulitreau, whocame to Pernambucoat the age of 18, and later married and raised his family here.

He married, a second time, to Amalia Pamford Victoriana, and had a son, Francisco Pedro Boulitreau, who later became leading businessman in Recife, owner of the Boulitreau bookstore.

Pierre Victor Boulitreau died aged 70, on 19 October 1882, at the São João plantation.

Recife, 14 march 2008.
(Updated on 14 september 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, March 2012.


sources consulted

FRAGOSO, Danillo. Boulitreau, senhor de engenho francês em Pernambuco. Recife: Museu do Açúcar; Imprensa Universitária da UFPE, 1970.

______. Os rótulos na história da aguardente (III). Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 12 mar. 2008..

COSTA FILHO, F. A. P. da. Pedro Victor Boulitreau. Almanak Litterario Pernambucano para o ano de 1896, Recife, ano 8, p. 161-163, 1895.


how to quote this text

Source: BARBOSA, Virgínia. Boulitreau. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009