In 1802, the Frenchman Jean Pierre Salabert, a maker of "fine hats", purchased the Quinta Grande, once owned by the Order of Christ, which became known as "Quinta Grande do Salabert". A short time later, the Quinta was confiscated by the State from its owner after the French Invasions. At the time of the Liberal revolution in 1820, it was already owned by João José da Costa.
In 1875, the property was purchased by João Silva Monteiro, "an emigrant from Brazil" who ordered the demolition of the old house and the building of a small palace in what was then called the Quinta do Campo Alegre.
Twenty years later, the Quinta came into the possession of João Henrique Andresen Júnior and his wife, Joana Andresen, who completed the project to renovate the house and the gardens. João Andresen was the son of an industrial and Port wine trader with the same name and was the grandfather of writers Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen (1919-2004) and Ruben A. (1920-1975).
The Faculty of Sciences of the University of Porto struggled with the lack of space for teaching and research in the first decades of operation. At a University Senate meeting on 9 August 1937, Américo Pires de Lima, a member and head of the FCUP, approved the following proposal: inform the government on the need to purchase the estate that had belonged to Joana and Henrique Andresen, to house the Botanical Garden, the Astronomy Observatory and a sports field. In the following month, the U.Porto asked the Minister of National Education if he could "put in a good word for the purchase of the Quinta Grande de "Salabert", in Rua do Campo Alegre, nos. 757 to 771, intended for the Botanical garden, Museums, and sports fields for the university students". At the end of the year, the Rector informed the Senate members that the purchase of Quinta de Salabert had been approved by the Government.
However, despite the claims of the Faculty of Sciences, the purchase of the estate had not been concluded in 1943. At that time, the Head of the Faculty sent a letter to the Rector expressing his grief over the abandonment of the land and property: "The park, gardens and greenhouses are at risk of deterioration due to the lack of proper care".
In the meantime, the Ministry of National Education received information that part of the Quinta do Campo Alegre was to be expropriated for the construction of access ways to the Arrábida Bridge. This is why the Minister of Public Works and Communications did not think it appropriate for the University of Porto to purchase the property. But the Minister of National Education was still interested in this purchase: "This Ministry (…) recognised the need to give the University of Porto the facilities it needs; and has also recognised that the most appropriate place for that purpose is the Quinta do Campo Alegre. (…) The urban development plan will be determined in accordance with the public interest; this purchase is also of public interest. In the hierarchy of these two interests, which should come first?"
In addition to the arguments presented by the Faculty of Sciences, there were others in favour of the purchase of the estate that had belonged to the Andresens: "Socially-wise, most students of the Faculty of Sciences (…) outside classes have no university support. I’m not talking about the useful and much needed residence halls (…). But university students should at least have proper physical education."
In 1944, the Rector António José Adriano Rodrigues informed the Mayor of the Porto City Council in detail about the advantages arising from the purchase of the Quinta do Campo Alegre.
Finally, in 1949, the estate was purchased by the Government and on 7 January of the following year the General-Directorate of the Treasury informed the Rector of the U.Porto that the Ministry of Finances had authorised the assignment, on a temporary basis, of, "town and rural property (…) known as "Quinta do Campo Alegre", to be used for various purposes [of the University], which, in the meantime, will be responsible for its safekeeping and maintenance". The Agreement was signed at the Directorate Internal Finance of Porto.
The herbaria, library and offices of the naturalist and assistants, in addition to the office of the Garden Inspector were transferred to the old Casa Andresen. The Directorate of National Buildings was responsible for repairing the outside of the house, including the rooftops. The interior of the small palace had been exposed to the elements for many years and also underwent major rehabilitation works.
The estate housed a series of residential and functional buildings, such as the house of the former owner, boasting 4 floors (basement, ground floor, first floor and attic), the houses of the caretaker and gardener, a tennis court, greenhouses, garage, warehouses, threshing floor and a recreational garden, farmland and forest.
In 2008, the Department of Botany of the Faculty of Sciences was transferred to its new facilities, also in Campus 3 of the University, and the once occupied house began to be remodelled by architect and professor Nuno Valentim to house the exhibition "The evolution of Darwin", a cultural event integrated in the celebrations of the 1st centenary of the U.Porto (2011).
In 2015 the nearby Casa Salabert was converted by a team of architects led by Nuno Valentim in the e-Learning Café Botânico, rehabilitation project winner of the 4th edition of the National Rehabilitation Prize, in the category of Commerce and Services (2016).
On 30 june 2017, the Hall of Biodiversity– Ciência Viva Center was officially inaugurated in Casa Andresen by the Presidente of the Portuguese Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, and the Rector of the University of Porto, Sebastião Feyo de Azevedo.