The Casa Amarilla is the headquarters of the big Alcaldía Miguel Hidalgo. It’s a historic government building, and the backdrop for much what happens in the public life of this part of the City.
The building itself dates to the 17th century, although their are a few competing versions of that story. It’s name comes, not from the color, but from the Don Agustín de Ahumada y Villalón, Marquis of Las Amarillas who lived here during the 18th century. He was the 42nd Viceroy of New Spain. He came to Mexico in 1755 and remained in power until 1760.
The competing version of the history holds that the Countess of Rábago, one María Josefa Peinado Miranda y Tristán, began the home in the 18th century. Her family did occupy it for much of that time. By the 19th century, though, her heirs sold it to the Count of Cortina. Toward the end of the same century it was sold, in part to the Passionist Fathers who established a convent.
In 1903, they built the Guadalupe Chapel on the same grounds. By 1932, the house was empty and in ruins. The Lázaro Cárdenas administration then took over the property and briefly a boarding school occupied the building. Students are said to have been “hungry, ragged and barefoot.” The school was soon after moved and the General Archive of the Nation and those of the Ministry of Public Education moved in.
By 1976, the Miguel Hidalgo Delegation was six years old, and renovations began to move the headquarters into the Casa Amarilla. The bell was placed at that time. The ceremony commemorating the beginning of the War of Independence (El Grito) requires a bell. It’s still one of the most prominent civic moments in the life of the alcaldía.
The grounds of the Casa Amarilla can be said to include much of the Parque Lira. This is said to of the Casa de la Bola, at the southeastern end of the same park. The museum there will give you a better idea of domestic life during the era. The plazas and walkways around the government buildings though, will you give a good idea of life during our own era. It’s a busy and civic-minded complex of open spaces and government offices.