Isaac Cardozo was now in a precarious financial position and the property, already mortgaged to the hilt, was becoming a huge financial burden. One of Cardozo’s creditors was Pablo Antonio Larios y Tashara, a wealthy businessman and banker and probably the only person with enough personal wealth to be able to afford the property.
Pablo Antonio Larios was Gibraltarian-born, the scion of an old Castilian family who had, despite his Spanish nationality, acquired a right of residence in Gibraltar. His father, Pablo Larios de las Heras was born in the Rioja in 1755. His first wife Ana Llera, died young and he settled for a while in Malaga with his son Manuel Domingo. He soon remarried and his new wife Gregoria Herreros who gave him another three sons, Pablo Eustaquio, Martin and Juan. In 1809, aged 54, he settled in Gibraltar with his family. When Larios de la Herras died his son Pablo Eustaquio took over the family business. Pablo Eustaquio married a local girl, Gerónima Tashara Celli. From this marriage Pablo Antonio was born in 1819, the very same year Aaron Cardozo had built his mansion.
When Pablo Eustaquio died in 1869 Pablo Antonio inherited most of his fortune. Not only was Pablo Antonio Larios now exceedingly wealthy, but he also became a generous local benefactor. As an example, in 1874, he donated a new clock for the tower of the local Catholic Church of St. Mary the Crowned.
In February 1875, Larios purchased the Cardozo mansion in Commercial Square for $39,000 – a fraction of the original cost – which probably reflected Aaron’s Cardozo’s severe financial predicament. Six months later, Cardozo died but the mansion was now firmly in control of the Larios family.
Larios subsequently carried out an in-depth renovation and refurbishment of his new acquisition with an additional storey being added along the west face of the building, crowned with a white marble balustrade. The ground floor was set apart for offices and services with the principal reception rooms occupying the first floor. The saloon, later the Council Chamber, was decorated in the Empire Style and included many Neo-Classical features. The walls had a series of supporting pilasters decorated at the top in a composite style of the Ionic and Corinthian orders of architecture. The ceiling had a number of framed bas-relief images inlaid in the plaster ceiling showing allegorical representations of the liberal arts, medallions of Roman emperors and historical and mythical scenes of Roman events, all in a 'gresaille' style. The adjoining smaller room, now the Mayor's Parlour, had its ceiling decorated with floral motifs and cherubs. The dining room, situated to the south of the building, had a rich black Brussels carpet with small light flowers; the main features of the room was the fireplace with panels of carved alabaster and a massive richly-carved sideboard dresser.11 Pablo Larios spared no expense renovating and improving the property, even installing running hot and cold water, which was practically unheard of in those times.
His expensive restoration of the property, however, coincided with the arrival of the Duke of Connaught, son of Queen Victoria who had been posted to Gibraltar whilst on active military duty. It soon became clear that Larios’s house was the only residence, apart from the Convent, luxurious enough to house such a royal figure anywhere in Gibraltar. Larios therefore lost no time in offering the Duke his newly refurbished property, to use as his residence during his stay in Gibraltar, an offer that was readily accepted. The Duke joined the Garrison General Staff on the 19th October 1875 and lived in this house until April 1876. Only after his departure did the Larios family finally move into the property which now became known as Connaught House, a name it retained until 1920.