History of Casa Mexilio
Welcome to the house that still strikes a dominant chord in Yucatan’s cultural, political, and artistic life… as it did in past centuries.
Built by Vicente Solis Leon for two of his sons and their wives, the Classical Venetian-inspired townhouse looks east toward the colonial spires and belfries of Merida’s historic center four blocks away. He was also architect and builder of the Lighthouse of the nearby Port of Progresso, first lighted in 1897.
The Solis Family’s principal manorial house and land holdings was the famous and legendary Xcanchakan Hacienda, located near the ruins of Mayapan about an hour south of the city, where, coincidentally, one of Casa Mexilio’s present owners was born to poor Mayan workers bound to the land.
In 1900, one of Yucatan’s intellectuals, the historian, journalist and politician, Serapio Baqueiro Preve, died here. His literary work detailed the horrors of that fifty-three year long struggle between The Maya and the Spanish, which we know as the Caste War of Yucatan.
Filled with the trappings and echos of other centuries, this is where, in 1936, President Lazaro Cardenas debated the conditions of Mexico’s expropriation of the Henequen Haciendas with the unhappy hacienda owners.
CASA MEXILIO is a mix of memories and themes of the lives of those who have inhabited its rooms. It is elegant and at the same time homey and genial. She wears her age well and with some style and is a green, comfortable and tranquil oasis in the heart of a hurried city.
Shortly after its centennial year, the neglected and empty home was rescued, restored and recycled into an award-winning, one-of-a-kind hotel — historic, small, stylish — and affordable.
XCANCHACAN HACIENDA’S CONNECTION TO CASA MEXILIO
Jorge was born on the hacienda. He remembers it as a happy place because his grandfather was a very important man, living in a well built house with a roof of French tiles, located near the Big House.
One of his aunts lived in a dwelling perched on a high rock shelf with views of the plaza where the white processed sisal was put out to dry. I remember visiting her one day. Of course, in the early 80s things had changed a lot. But I remember that she gave Jorge a chair. These party chairs were hung from the high ceiling and painted with a mixture of lime and water to ward off insects. It was one of the few things that remained from the happy times of fiestas and corridas. Today it can be found in the hotel, and will tell its story, if you ask.
Fernando Solis Camera was the owner of both Xcanchacan Hacienda and the mansion at 495 68th Street (now Casa Mexilio) and Jorge occupies a room which once belonged to its lord and master. It’s the same room where President Lazaro Cardenas met with Fernando Solis and his comite of hacendados to debate the terms of the Expropriation Decree of all of Yucatan’s haciendas in 1936.
After the Decree and subsequent breakup of the haciendas by Presidente Gral. Lazaro Cardenas, the brothers, Fernando and Pedro, left Merida with their families and moved to Mexico City, making their residencies there.
Back at the hacienda: For Jorge’s family, the relative wealth, excellent standing in the community, privileged address, large house and preferential job description of his grandfather, Feliciano Camara, was a mystery. He was president of the gremio which planned and put on the large fiestas. And he was always heading important meetings in the Main Hacienda Building. They say that he was tall and well educated, a lover and owner of many horses, well-respected — and he had the same last name as the former owner of the hacienda — Camera. Things happen, as they say.
His first wife died, leaving several young children, and when he remarried he chose Hortensia Yam Flores — Jorge’s grandmother — who is still alive today at 109 years. Here she is on the left side of the photograph.
A marble stone containing the names of Don Fernando and his wife, Ema Gomez, marks their graves within the large free standing capilla near the front gate of the Hacienda Xcanchacan.