Museum Campus

Mexican House

Mexican House
Mexican House
Mexican House

The Mexican Colonial House is located near the Stockman Collections Center. It was donated to the Society in 2001 by the Denver Art Museum and Althea Revere and accessioned into the permanent collections as catalog number 2001.069.

Local santero Luis Tapia and his son Sergio reconstructed the pitched-roof wooden house as if it was an oversized Lego set using a system of marks that helped with placing the pieces together. The building is fifteen feet tall with a square floorplan that is twenty-five feet wide on each side and it sits on a raised platform.

The steeply pitched roof extends beyond the walls to form deep shade-casting eaves, although there are no windows. The front faces west with a full width porch and a centered entry door. This façade contains all of the decoration on the house with carved posts and corbels, carved moldings, and a carved and painted door.

The Tarascan Indians who constructed this building are from northern Michoacán in central pre-Columbian Mexico. This area had been populated by native cultures since the third millennium B.C., but the earlier Tarascan evidence comes from around 150 B.C. with its highest achievements from 1100 A.D. to 1530 A.D. The independent culture prevailed through many battles with the Aztec peoples and continued up through Spanish arrival in the region in the 16th century with descendants surviving today.

The Spanish brought European art and architectural styles to New Spain and the Mexican Baroque period (circa 1600-1800) witnessed a blending of native materials and techniques with European ideas of form and decoration. This Mexican House was built in 1790 as a ceremonial grain storage building. The decorative details reveal a blending of cultures with curvilinear designs and elaborately pierced columns that are late examples of the Estípite or Churrigueresque style. The 8-panel entry door has beautifully carved details of the personified moon and sun highlighted with white, gray, and red paint.