Art Nouveau was introduced into Mar del Plata by the many European architects who began working in the capital and its provinces from the 1860s. The dominant presence of architects like Belgium's Julio Dormal, who designed the palace for Inés Ortiz Basualdo de Peña, or Hungary's Juan Kronfuss helped to spread the taste for a simple, geometric style of Art Nouveau. The combination of these two architects and the need to build and urbanise Argentina resulted in the spread of a stylistic melting pot of turn-of-the-century Europe.
Mar del Plata was no exception. It was a young city and its lands were bought in 1860 by Patricio Peralta Ramos, the city's greatest benefactor, who contributed so much to developing the place that it was registered as a town 14 years later. Pedro Luro was also fundamental in developing the city's profile, because he strengthened its agriculture, salt houses and trade. Other important events also contributed to its growth, such as the arrival of the railways in 1886, recognition of the city in 1907 and the opening of its port in 1913.
During these decades, the city consolidated itself as a place of residence and was a select destination for the upper classes from Buenos Aires during the summer. Its climate, beaches and proximity to the capital helped in this role and it provided the city with an important source of revenue. The well-to-do residents from Buenos Aires built second homes in the form of villas and chalets and 300 of these today have been classified as heritage sites. The paradigm of good taste at the time followed mainly European models; therefore, upper-class styles or historicisms with major symbolic connections were reproduced. Eclectic, classicist and "Hispanicised regionalist style" houses proliferated and especially prevalent were those in an "Anglo-Norman picturesque" style.
Art Nouveau was also present, though this was more Secessionist in nature, as can be seen in the interior of the Ortiz Basualdo Villa (1909), which has preserved its full design plan by the Belgian firm Serrurier Bovy. Cafés are other typical places to find Art Nouveau styles and those still existing today are the Café Francés and the Almacén Buenos Aires.