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Casa Gargollo (University Club)

Photo courtesy of the Centro Cultural Isidro Fabela.

The Casa Gargollo is among the most celebrated turn-of-the-20th-century homes on Paseo de la Reforma. Most Mexico City residents know it as The University Club. The social and dining club purchased it 1933. The original owner, José Manuel María Gargollo y Garay and his wife Alicia Rivas-Mercado Castellanos, signed it over during the financial turmoil of the early Depression.

Facing the Cuauhtémoc Monument on Reforma, the house was meant to be a showcase for the antiques and art collected by Gargollo. He purchased the land, on which another house had already begun, in 1901. A new architect, José Luis Cuevas, finished construction of the property in 1904. But a distinguished property of its time, decorating the property would delay occupation by another year. Cuevas is mostly remembered today for having designed the street layouts for Hipodromo de Condesa, Lomas de Chapultepec and Polanco. He also built a number of buildings on the Calle Calle Fray Pedro de Gante, in the city center. He later became an important collaborator of Mario Pani.

The house is most noted for the octagonal corner tower. It serves as an open air room on the ground floor with a library upstairs. The original owners commissioned much of the ironwork during their frequent trips to France. The University Club did a remarkable job at preserving much of the original design. Their complete 2013-14 rehabilitation of the property took into account the re-provisioning  of spaces made in the 1930s. Kitchens, bathrooms, service stairs, dining rooms, and the canteen were all added. They also roofed the interior patio. By and large though, the Club has respected most of the original splendor of the house.

At present though, the Club is constructing an enormous 55-story residential tower to the rear of the property. Scheduled to open in 2023, how the tower will effect the original Casa Gargollo remains to be seen.

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