The Beautiful Old Houses of Alamos and a Rufous-Bellied Chachalaca – Mexico Part 3

The once-wealthy silver mining town of Alamos, Mexico,where we visited with friends recently, is now welcoming ex-pat Americans and Canadians drawn to the area in part for its old colonial charm, including its beautiful and historic 18th and 19th century houses.

Doorway to a house in Alamos, Mexico
Doorway to a house in Alamos, Mexico

Splendid in their day but ultimately ravaged by early 20th-century banditos and revolucíonarios, many of the old mansions today are for sale at relative bargain prices.

Doorway to a house in Alamos, Mexico
Doorway to a house in Alamos, Mexico

Some houses have been lucky to find gracious stewards, including Casa de la Plata, below, where we stayed over New Year’s.

Casa de la Plata, Alamos, Mexico
Casa de la Plata, with Suburban de la Clunka

Like many of the old houses here, a rather stern street-side facade opens to the lovely surprise of sun-splashed courtyard and gurgling fountain.

Courtyard, Casa de la Plata, Alamos, Mexico
Courtyard with awnings to shade the enclosed porch, Casa de la Plata
Fountain, Courtyard, Casa de la Plata, Alamos, Mexico
In the courtyard, a fountain is fashioned from an old stone trough.

New York designer Fernando Santangelo  and 20th-century decorative arts dealer Cristina Grajales both lent their efforts to the artful restoration of this house, located felicitously just steps from the luxurious Hacienda de los Santos resort and spa, covered in Mexico – Part 2, Saturday’s post.

Courtyard, Casa de la Plata, Alamos, Mexico
Courtyard, Casa de la Plata

In the main courtyard wall a door opens to yet another enclosure comprising the pool, master bedroom, and a covered living and dining area.

La Casa de la Plata, Alamos
A wooden doorway in main courtyard leads to another.

Notice the big lantern suspended above the pool. Fab.

Pool, Casa de la Plata, Alamos, Mexico
Pool, Casa de la Plata, Alamos, Mexico

To the right of the pool is a cozy sitting area around a fireplace and a dining table.

La Casa de la Plata, Alamos
The scene of late night storytelling, and as His Grace likes to say, "smoking cigars and talking big." Casa de la Plata, Alamos

Across from it is the master bedroom, with its own porch and sitting area. I don’t quite understand the birdcages but I like them. I don’t like caged birds but I’m crazy about birdcages.

La Casa de la Plata, master bedroom porch
Casa de la Plata, master bedroom porch

The main central courtyard is surrounded by guest rooms, living and dining rooms, and the kitchen.

Courtyard, Casa de la Plata, Alamos, Mexico
Courtyard, Casa de la Plata, Alamos, Mexico
Casa de la Plata, Alamos, Mexico
Fireplace and seating area of main courtyard, Casa de la Plata, Alamos, Mexico

The walls of terra-cotta and dark green with white stenciling is handsome and effective in enhancing the architecture and scale of the space.

Seating area in courtyard, Casa de la Plata, Alamos, Mexico
Seating area in courtyard, Casa de la Plata, Alamos, Mexico
Dining room, Casa de la Plata, Alamos, Mexico
The dining room with its fine inlaid table and silver chandelier, Casa de la Plata, Alamos, Mexico

The houses are generally not heated but have fireplaces in every room. It is warm in this part of Mexico most of the time.

This was not one of those times.

I brought all these pretty embroidered, linen-y, flow-y things and ended up in my husband’s black cashmere turtleneck almost every night, with a blanket I pretended was a shawl. Think Scarlett O’Hara wearing the curtains.

Guest room, Casa de la Plata, Alamos, Mexico
Guest room, Casa de la Plata, Alamos, Mexico

The linens are embroidered with “11,” the street number of the house, such an elegant touch. The two-tone painting of the walls gives the bedrooms dimension without distracting from their rustic simplicity.

Another charming detail is the doves on the courtyard wall, which you will miss if you don’t look. They are perhaps a nod to Alamos‘s status as a primo birdwatching spot owing to the area’s unique ecological situation in southeastern Sonora, boasting at least 50 species of birds rarely if ever seen just across the border in the U.S. If you’ve ever wanted to see a rufous-bellied chachalaca, this is your spot.

Doves on the courtyard wall, Casa de la Plata, Alamos, Mexico
Doves on the courtyard wall, Casa de la Plata, Alamos, Mexico

Now listen, you may be saying, you don’t just throw out something like a rufous-bellied chachalaca and walk away. And you’re right. I wouldn’t have it in me. Here you go, thanks to René Valdes at . I stumbled onto René’s site and the photos are fantastic. Worth a visit, and a bit easier to get to than Alamos itself…

Rufous-bellied Chachalaca 2011-04 19-24 Mzt _MG_6947
Rufous-bellied chachalaca, by Rene Valdes at

Or perhaps the birds on the courtyard wall are a nod to the homeowners’ love of bird hunting, another reason outdoor enthusiasts are drawn to the area. The countryside is beautiful, too. More on that, and a few sketchbook pages, coming up… Vaya con Dios.

To see the earlier posts on Alamos: Ola de Mexico – Part 1 and the fabulous Hacienda de los Santos – Mexico – Part 2 .


  1. Oh, the colors are stunning! I am particularly enamored with the fabulous awnings. What a splendid way to ring in the new year!

  2. Frances,
    Gray skies in Atlanta…reward of the day is your part 3 of Alamos. Just wonderful it all including the awnings edge design..birds beautiful and views from doors and windows. Porch fireplace so cozy. Keep them coming as “yes Virginia, there is a January” and you are full of cheer!
    xo, Lynn

    1. Thank you dear Lynn. I will be bringing as much sunshine as I can in these winter days. Thank you for yours! xo Frances

  3. Kudos on your photography of our fantastic village and “Casa Once” Frances. The day you left the temperature was back up to normal at 82 degress. You looked mighty adorable clothed by His Grace and the bed. The antique brooch from Paris did not hurt at all. Hurry back and we will hike in the hills. Te mando un gran abrozo y besito.

    1. Nancy you are too kind – but I must say Alamos is what it is today because of you and your wonderful family. We look forward to the next. Besito, F

  4. Thank you for your gorgeous photography. It makes me feel like I went on the vacation with you. You posts are always so enjoyable to read with the humor included. And I meant to write after the Epiphany post. I read it just before we left for church to enjoy the amazing bagpipers and the barking sheep. My favorite post so far of all i have read so far is the your birthday photo at burger king. It was just the smile I needed that day.

    1. Oh darling Maili – and your posts make ME smile. I will look forward to a visit when I’m back in the Valley. xox F

    1. Oh thank you dear Whitney. According to Nancy, above, the weather is perfect now! It was a little chilly when we were there to tell you the truth. Moral: Even if you go to a “warm” place – if it is winter you could land there in the rare cold snap. Take at least a warm wrap or sweater – or be prepared to wear the bedspread. 😉 Frances

  5. Suburban de la Clunka, you crack me up! Love, love, love the pictures. The one of the (gorgeous) doorway leading to the pool with the lantern over the pool and the single candle right outside the door, oh my! Those rooms, so beautiful and welcoming, I want to move in. I’m down with a mucky cold, Silver Lining being I received a copy of your book A House In the South yesterday, add a big pot of tea, lots of pillows, Tamiflu (which better darn well work!) and it’s all good. Keep those posts coming!

  6. Thanks for capturing the beauty and enchanting allure of Alamos. We just returned to New York last night after a five day stay and you are helping us with our withdrawal! Happy New Year and will keep an eye out for your future blogs!

  7. Wow! What a fantastic view of Alamos and the property. I have a very soft spot in my heart for all things southwestern, and this place captures it perfectly. I trust you enjoyed your time there. There is nothing like a cold crisp night in the desert. The skies are “crystal clear” unlike anything most of us normally see. It’s truly awe inspiring. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Well hello, Rick, it is so good of you to write. And I agree, there is nothing like a crystal clear desert night. Happy New Year, come see us, Frances

  8. Beautiful pics!! Great post. So good it got my mouth watering for some Paloma!!! I forget how gorgeous the architecture is there. You are the best.

  9. Dear Frances,
    Thank you for sharing the Casa de la Plata. Outstanding attention to every detail, amazing!
    It is beautiful, just as is the Hacienda de Los Santos!
    Blessings come to us in different ways, this
    Is most especially a blessing. We have thoroughly enjoyed Our time in Alamos, quite a jewel to behold.
    All the Best,
    Sandy Pardun

    1. Thank you, Sandy. Alamos has quite the fan club I am finding. Small wonder, of course, but what a special group you are!

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