The Watch

Carolina Hacienda

Chihuahua, Mexico

1998 World Monuments Watch

The last generation of wealthy landowners to emerge in Mexico to build elaborate haciendas within huge land tracts arose during the dictatorship of Diaz, who became president in 1876 and ruled until 1911. Carolina Hacienda was the summer residence of General Luis Terrazas, Mexico's wealthiest landowner before the revolution. He built a French Neoclassical-style house with a portico, domed watch towers, and a center cupola. Beyond a surrounding garden were a chapel, workers' houses, school, and stables, each strongly articulated but forming a cohesive estate aesthetic. The main house is in precarious condition. The roof is at risk of collapsing, walls are eroding, and decorative elements are crumbling. A strong local constituency is eager to integrate this hacienda into the life of the town before it is beyond repair. As has been the case with many haciendas throughout Mexico, it could then function again as the center of a local economy enhanced by its presence.

Since the Watch

Following the 1998 Watch a partial development plan for the area was announced that envisioned a restored hacienda as a community center and its surrounding area as a public park. Restoration of the main building finally began in 2009, with 15 million pesos in funding from Mexico's National Council for Culture and the Arts, and additional support announced in 2011. Architectural elements have been restored according to the original design and using traditional materials, and the structure's main dome has been reconstructed. When complete, this center for Chihuahuan culture and cultural heritage will house a museum of the era of Luis Terrazas, as well as classroom space for instruction in music, dance, theater, and the fine arts, a library, and two auditoriums. Another building of the historic hacienda is now the home of a new youth orchestra. Chihuahua's oldest surviving murals were discovered in 2007 in the chapel of the former hacienda. January 2011

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