the years, the Glass-Sabine real estate team has represented the owners of many
astounding Spanish-Mediterranean homes, and they continue to be fascinated by
the on-going appeal of this architectural style. Recently, Sheila Sabine put on
her gypsy boots and headed south of the border to take a closer look at some
Spanish-style buildings - in particular those found in the ancient colonial town
of Patzcuaro, Mexico. Patzcuaro is a site first occupied by the Tarascan
Indians, and then later developed by the Spanish who began building churches and
convents there in 1560.
on a brief retreat in Patzcuaro, Sheila met Victoria Ryan who owns a fantastic
18th-century colonial villa used primarily as an artists’ retreat
and a Bed and Breakfast. Victoria,
a native of Santa Fe, New Mexico, was drawn to the picturesque town of Patzcuaro
because it reminded her of the Santa Fe she knew in the 1950’s with its wide
central town plaza and slow-paced lifestyle. For
two years, she searched for the perfect property to buy. She worked with a local
realtor who helped her negotiate the price, and a lawyer who prepared the
elaborate original deeds. As Mexico has very few bank loans, Victoria, like most buyers, had to pay all cash for her purchase.
(Although foreigners are allowed to become homeowners, they must first
receive permission from the Mexican government
which runs a complete background check on the buyer’s credentials.)
1996, Victoria found the place she had been looking for. She named it “Casa
Encantada.” It had been
owned by the Cerda family since 1787. Before that, it had been the
orchard for an adjacent 16th-century convent. Through the years, the
unbelievable charm of the property had attracted such famous guests as the
artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. In addition, a famous 1940’s Mexican
movie, Tiempo de Morir was filmed here.
most large homes in Mexico, Casa Encantada is surrounded by high, thick adobe
walls which protect and conceal the beauty within. A large internal courtyard,
splashed with sunlight, features a fountain and lush gardens. When Victoria
first purchased the property, there were many challenges including inadequate
13-amp circuitry, one outdoor bathroom, and running water for only two
hours each day. She began the renovation
by working with a crew of fourteen people. They immediately installed an
8,000-gallon holding tank, three kitchens and five new bathrooms – all with
completely new plumbing. She tore up some of the old wide plank floors and
replaced them with traditional red tiles; from the recycled wood floorboards,
she built a large dining table and other pieces of furniture. She has decorated
the private guest suites with a wide variety of crafts and artworks designed by
particular interest is the comfortable large kitchen where the walls are covered
with original photos of Indian women cooking in the same kitchen in the days
when the stove had four open fire pits. To preserve the old look, Victoria
carefully ran a gas line through the old stove, and put a large grill on top.
The kitchen features green tiles and a unique green pottery which come from a
village called Patamban; every year Victoria makes the four-hour trip there to
add more pieces to her extensive collection. The kitchen’s color scheme of
green tile and vibrant terracotta is repeated throughout the house.
is proud that all the restoration was done in a completely authentic manner.
In fact, visitors often think that nothing has been done to the house.
The decorative details, high beam ceilings, brilliant colors, the art studios,
cozy fireplaces and the touches of antiquity combine to create a wonderful
colonial environment. If you want to learn more about giving a true Spanish
feeling to your home, why not venture south to study the details up close?
For more information about this exotic getaway, you can visit La Casa
Encantada on the web at www.lacasaencantada.com.
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