The Casco de la Hacienda de Coapa is the former “Big House” of one of the three historic haciendas of the broader Coapa area. This was the headquarters of the Hacienda de San José de Coapa. At almost the western limits of the estate, the majority of the territory extended to the east across the Canal Nacional.
Today, the headquarters is still standing, but it’s little known and not likely to draw many visitors. It’s still privately owned and the entire street level is occupied by individual storefronts. Even the hacienda chapel, now re-named for the street outside (Sta. Rosa), is occupied by residential tenants. (That’s according to INAH.) But for the agricultural ruins across the street, the building’s own historic characteristics would likely go unnoticed. There was a small historic marker on Santa Rosa street indicating the old stables. These stood behind the beautiful double wooden doors but even that marker has been lost in the past few years.
The immensity of the stone walls across the Calzada de Hueso give some indication of the scale of the operation though. In the 18th century, the hacienda constituted a regional capital and a great economic power. By 1771, the Marquis del Villar del Aguila sold the entire hacienda to Pedro Martinez Vargas. Vargas added a new roof and raised the walls, but with Mexican Independence and ever more liberal land reforms, the entire estate was eventually divided up. The hacienda’s farm fields came to provide for an increasing number of cattle ranches and other livestock operations. The one remaining stone and brick building dates from the 18th century. Impressive as it is, today a private cable TV channel uses it as part of their Coapa recording studios.
The hacienda was further sub-divided over the course of the next 100 years. In the wake of the Mexican Revolution, the remains of the hacienda, its orchard, a stable, and several lots were bought by Monsignor Rafael Guízar y Valencia. He briefly hosted a seminary here. And in 1939, the Great House itself lost some of its former grandeur. This time workers cut into it to make way for the expansion of the Calzadas de Tlalpan and del Hueso.
Today’s Coapa is not a well-understood corner of Mexico City. The former Big House of the Hacienda de Coapa today draws little attention. Students from the UVM Coapa campus pass by but few will pause to consider its long history. The giant architectural works across the street, the remains of a great barn, are some of the most photographed historical artifacts in this part of Mexico City.