The Buenos Aires House of Culture is an architectural landmark in the Montserrat section of the Argentine capital. The outmoded headquarters of what was then Argentina's second-largest newspaper, La Prensa, led its influential proprietor in 1894, José Clemente Paz, to purchase a 1300 m² (14,000 ft²) lot on the newly opened Avenida de Mayo, and he commissioned local architects Carlos Agote and Alberto Gainza to design a new headquarters at the site. Agote and Gainza, both graduates of the École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures, drew from their training in Paris to create a Beaux-Arts design, beginning with a façade inspired by French architect Charles Garnier.
Completed in 1898, the new La Prensa offices was inaugurated in a ceremony attended by around 20,000. The Beaux-Arts exterior is notable also for its spire, which is topped by a gilt bronze monument to freedom of the press represented by Pallas Athena and created by French sculptor Maurice Bouval (of Thibaut Frères). Bouval's Athena stands 50 m (164 ft) above the ground and holds an electric lamp representing Prometheus' sacred fire.
The spire also contains a siren, installed in 1900 to symbolically herald news La Prensa considered singular milestones. The siren has been rung five times over the decades: on news of the assassination of Umberto I, the King of Italy, in 1900; on the landing of the Apollo 11 spacecraft on the moon; on the Argentine National Football Team's first FIFA World Cup, in 1978; on the invasion of the Falkland Islands by the last dictatorship, in 1982; and on the return of democracy with the inaugural of President Raúl Alfonsín, in 1983.