Wealthy mineowner Don Manuel Gameros, designed and built the Chihuahua, Mexico mansion known as Quinta Gameros for his fiance, Eliza Muller. He intended the home as a present to her, but by the time it was finished in 1910, Eliza, by then his wife, had died. That same year, the Mexican Revolution began and the Gameros family fled the country. In 1913 the house was taken over by revolutionary forces and served as the private home for Venustiano Carranza, as well as headquarters and office for the legendary Francisco (Pancho) Villa.
After there was peace in Mexico, Don Manuel’s offspring returned and lived in the house until the Mexican government acquired the property. It was turned over to the State University, which initially used it for classrooms and eventually turned it into a museum in 1958. Today, following several successful restorations, the house is a spectacular example of period architecture. The details on the walls and ceilings are exquisite. Its towers, sculptures, columns, domes and pinnacles were designed by Colombian architect Julio Corredor and carved by quarry-master Romualdo Gonzalez. The pure art nouveau decor and furniture on display, considered to be true jewels of this European style, belonged to the Requena family of Mexico City, and they were especially brought over to form part of the museum’s permanent exhibits.
Highlight of the tour is the dining room, a monumental masterpiece of carved wood. It has two inlaid credenza shelves with marble tops and brass ornaments set on either side of the chimney as part of the wall paneling. Spanning the entire rear wall is a wood cabinet with a crest that reflects in a mirror that runs across the upper part of the room. The side doors of the cabinet are painted with gilded scenes of spring and summer; in the center, magnificent stained glass door display a floral motif; and beneath it a dumbwaiter communicated with the kitchen through a half-tunnel. The massive table, twelve chairs, and an infant’s chair feature mahogany carvings of grape clusters, floral designs, and leather upholstery.
The Oronic Angels collection and part of the University’s Art collection are also on permanent display, and the musuem hosts many temporary exhibits and cultural events throughout the year. Quinta Gameros is well worth the $20 peso admission fee (less than $2 USD) just to see the exquisite period furniture. The museum is within easy walking distance of the Central Plaza in downtown Chihuahua, and is easily spotted from its green roof.