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Both La Conchita, the Church of the Immaculate Conception, and the Casa de Bellas Artes (to the right in the photo above) date-back to the 17th century. The casa was home to numerous owners of the textile factory, known as La Magdalena. Among them were many members of the original Contreras family. Thus it was known as the casa patronal, or more simply as the “boss’s house.” The Church of the Immaculate Conception next door had been a small family chapel. As the factory increased its crew of workers, the church was expanded to include more and more of them.
The home was recognized as a historical property by the National Institute of Anthropology and History. An extensive restoration process began and this revealed much older floors and a staircase which had been unknown for generations. Textile production in the area lasted until the 1970s when the “La Magdalena” finally closed shop. The Casa de Bellas Artes opened in 1979 to the public.
The arts center today is named for the composer and violinist José Juventino Policarpo Rosas Cadenas (1868 – 1894). He is said to have written his most famous waltz “Along the spring,” later called “Sobre las olas,” (Above the Waves), inspired by sounds of pecking birds and water flowing from the mill outside this very house. Averting the army after deserting in 1888, he would die just six years later at the young age of 26.
Today the casa offers workshops in painting, music, drawing, and is especially well-regarded as a center for dance. The property was for many years the center of the work belonging to the Contreras family, where woolen cloths were made and it was one of the many factories and industry that took advantage of the riverbed, giving economic prosperity to the area.
The Casa and La Conchita church are just a few minutes walk from the Foro Cultural de la Magdalena Conteras.
Hours: Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
One of the most beloved of city neighborhoods makes an excellent daytrip, too.
The rugged slopes beneath Mazatepetl are home to San Bernabé Ocotepec, and old and most curious pueblito.
One of the great original towns of Magdalena Contreras, San Nicolás Totolapan has a history as deep as any.