Photos: Milton Martínez / Secretaría de Cultura de la Ciudad de México
The Antigua Escuela de Jurisprudencia, that is, the Old School of Jurisprudence is the converted southern half of the old Santa Catalina Convent. Begun in the late 16th century, only the church remains at the north of the complex. The church and the school share much of the same history, having diverged only at the beginning of the 20th century.
The school came about at the turn of the 20th century. Engineer Salvador Echegaray designed the building in 1902, and construction completed in 1908. The President, Porfirio Díaz opened the school officially that same year. The Jurisprudence School then operated until 1954 when the Faculty of Law reopened on the CU Campus in the south of the City.
Although it briefly housed a part of the National Preparatory School, as of today, most of the building is used by the Post-Graduate Law School of the UNAM. They focus here on continuing education and alumni services. The Supreme Court also occupies a small part of the building.
It stands out for the eclectic architectural mix that includes Palladian columns with pediments. The third floor was added relatively early in the 20th century and nearly all of the interior has been remodeled numerous times.
The school benefits from the pedestrian-only status of this part of San Ildefonso street. It acts as the plaza that the convent never enjoyed. And in a crowded and busy part of the Center City, a public plaza is always a relief to find.