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.
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.
Some houses have been lucky to find gracious stewards, including Casa de la Plata, below, where we stayed over New Year’s.
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.
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.
In the main courtyard wall a door opens to yet another enclosure comprising the pool, master bedroom, and a covered living and dining area.
Notice the big lantern suspended above the pool. Fab.
To the right of the pool is a cozy sitting area around a fireplace and a dining table.
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.
The main central courtyard is surrounded by guest rooms, living and dining rooms, and the kitchen.
The walls of terra-cotta and dark green with white stenciling is handsome and effective in enhancing the architecture and scale of the space.
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.
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.
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 BirdPicsandMore.com . I stumbled onto René’s site and the photos are fantastic. Worth a visit, and a bit easier to get to than Alamos itself…
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.