In our continuing series featuring the unique homes and neighborhoods of Mérida, Yucatán, we are proud to present Barrio de La Mejorada neighborhood. Our host is Keith Heitke, a senior sales agent for Mexico International Real Estate.
Each video episode on our website features a different residential neighborhood of this interesting and beautiful city, focusing on a home which exemplifies the best of that neighborhood. While we’ll give you lots of great footage and design ideas, we hope it only whets your appetite to see more, and of course nothing beats experiencing these amazing homes in person. Yucatan Today operates a series of House & Garden tours every Wednesday from November through March as a fundraising project for three different non-profit organizations.
If you would like to savor the details about the neighborhood of La Mejorada, and the house itself, scroll down for a written summary. And if you would like to post a comment, you can do so at the end of the article.
Merida’s historic Parque La Mejorada is located at the corner of Calle 59 and Calle 50, five blocks east of the main square and completely contained within Merida’s centro historico.
The original church of the same name dates from the mid 1600s. The church has grown in the intervening decades to include a large monastery, which now serves as the city’s architectural school, so it is still buzzing with activity to this day. Across from the church to the south is a full block of former military barracks, now used as a school and also providing after-school activities for kids of many ages.
There was a hospital located here as well from this time, the first hospital to be constructed in the city. It is long gone, but what does remain are very grand facades of stately private mansions which lined the entire park, most of which are now used as public buildings such as restaurants, shops, and museums. There is a relatively large concentration of museums here in La Mejorada, including one dedicated specifically to music. Two very traditional restaurants call this square home, the super-popular Los Almendros, and the newer Spanish food restaurant called Meson del Segoviano.
Like all bustling city squares, there are a variety of diversions and shaded benches and folks of all ages. The centerpiece of this park is literally in the center: a large statue honoring the “niños heroes” of Mexico City. These were six very young boys who protected the Chapultapec Castle against a U.S. invasion in D.F. to their deaths. Every city in Mexico has some monument to their heroism, and Merida’s is here in La Mejorada where we find ourselves for this episode.
Just a couple of blocks further east is an interesting Spanish Colonial home that has been completely brought up to date. Rather than trying to recreate the past, the owners of this home decided to take the best elements of the home and give it the best elements of today’s kind of living.
This old home was in very bad condition, although there were still people living there. Additions had been put on and more and more things brought into the house, but seemingly nothing had ever been taken out! Of course the backyard was not even used by the owners, it was more of an open-air storage area.
The house dates from the early 1800s, so it has all the elements we’ve come to expect such as solid rock walls, high, beamed ceilings, tall blank façade. However in this case the owner did not have the luxury of restoring much of what was there: the pasta tile floors for instance were cracked and in horrible condition, same with many of the interior walls, and all of the more recent additions to the back of the house had to go.
The nearly twenty-foot tall ceilings in the main front room were echoed through to the back, actually stepping up, rather than down over the kitchen to bring in more tropical light and breezes. What was originally a formal living room across the front is now divided, allowing a great palm-filled entranceway and the first of two-plus bathroom suites. Since the original 20×20 pasta tile floors were not usable, the new owners decided to do huge, more modern squares instead, now the squares are a full meter square, and polished in a creamy neutral color. These along with the high ceilings and rock walls utilize the best of old and new.
Between the two main bedroom suites are two separate bathrooms that can only be entered through the bedrooms. These two full bathrooms do share an open-air courtyard between them, bringing even more light and air through the house.
The huge open plan living/dining/kitchen act as a gathering spot for all guests, with a view of the patio and pool at the back, and a large marble topped island for cooking and entertaining. This is quite a change from the tiny apartment-sized kitchen the house had.
A smaller but still good-sized bedroom acts as an office for the owners, as well as a third guestroom when needed, and a full bath next to this makes it fully functioning.
The substantial terrace is burgeoning with tropical plants, and just up a couple of steps is the swimming pool and a raised patio area, all contained by hand-laid stone walls surrounding the property.
As is often the case, the very severe and simple façade of this house gives nothing away to the passer-by. It would be impossible to know that a light and airy and thoroughly modern home, garden, and pool lies just behind the colonial doors.
Click here to see more of Keith’s house tour videos.
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