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The Casa Rivas Mercado is a striking mansion, a ruin for some 20 years, and a treasure to all the surrounding streets. 19th-century eclectic architecture is just the beginning of it
Construction on the began in 1893 and lasted four years and Mr. and Mrs. Rivas Mercado moved inside in 1898. The house was homebase for a whole group of intellectuals, architects, painters, sculptors, Mexican, and foreign writers often invited to meals at the house.
When the architect died, in 1927, his daughter Alicia inherited the house and lived there until 1936. She then donated it to the Church and it later became a school. For some 60 years it was owned and inhabited by another family and then abandoned for 20 years.
Today, as a cultural center and architectural museum, it’s simply an astounding house to visit.
Rivas Mercado carefully chose imported and domestic materials to build the entire house. With classic elements like Doric columns in the front gallery and Renaissance balustrades on the terraces and the pediment above the main entrance, it’s as outstanding in its state of only semi-remodelation. Something is left to the imagination, but that remains a big part of the places charm.
Elements of pre-Hispanic design adorn the terrace pilasters. Moorish motifs inspire the tiles, and in the friezes of the facades. There’s plenty of Victorian in the doors and windows, and of course there’s some art nouveau. Encaustic mosaics from England, about 50 thousand of them in some 90 different designs should leave you speechless.
As a cultural center, it’s simply an outstanding place to visit, and for architecture buffs, simply not one to miss.