Paseo de Montejo mansions that need to be rescued again

Thank you, big business, for keeping these emblematic mansions standing. If only the rest of us could enjoy them.

For all of the historic mansions the Paseo de Montejo has lost, we’re grateful for the ones that remain. What saved them were the corporations — mainly financial service companies — that realized the value of doing business in a grand landmark building.

But since tourism is such an essential part of Yucatán’s economy, and the Paseo de Montejo is ground zero for strolling tourists, we imagine a future where these rescued mansions are rescued once again.

Wouldn’t many of them be wonderful hotels, guest houses, restaurants and coffee shops? The Starbucks near the old Holiday Inn is a fine example. Whatever you think of an international chain opening up shop on the Paseo — and we’re not too thrilled about that aspect — it’s wonderful that the doors are open to the public, and we are invited into this lovely space.

Having an investment bank occupy a wedding cake of a building seems a waste. Who is really appreciating their surroundings? Anyone inside has their mind on business. And the buildings seem comatose. We’d like to see them alive with people enjoying good times.

Not to diss these companies. They have been good stewards of Mérida’s heritage. And of course, customers deserve dignified surroundings. We just imagine a better use for such emblematic buildings.

Here are some buildings that we think deserve more attention.


A real estate investment company has kept this property in fine condition, but we’d like to be invited in for lunch. Photo: Lee Steele / Yucatán Magazine

2Profuturo GNP

Near Calle 29-A is this investment banking office. Wouldn’t that patio be a great place for a beer? Photo: Lee Steele / Yucatán Magazine

3¡Se vende!

Between Cupules and 29A not far from the Monumento a la Patria is this house on the market. They are asking 26 million pesos or around US$1.3 million. INAH permits are in place, the real estate agent says. Photo: Lee Steele / Yucatán Magazine

4Shrouded in green

Across from the Walmart and around the corner from some large hotels is this home for sale. We can only wonder what the next owner will do. Photo: Lee Steele / Yucatán Magazine

5For Premier clients only

HSBC hosts its more wealthy clients in a converted private home. Next door, a Starbucks took a similar home — previously used as a Chinese restaurant — and created a beautiful coffee shop for the public to enjoy. Photo: Lee Steele / Yucatán Magazine

6Inbursa Grupo Financiero

A financial services company called Imbursa has kept the exterior and the grounds of this grand mansion in good shape. But unless you work there, you can’t go in. It’s on the corner of the Paseo de Montejo and Calle 35. Photo: Lee Steele / Yucatán Magazine

7Strange neighbors

Between 35 and 37 is this gorgeous hunk of house. The Paseo needs more like these. It’s El Minaret, completed in 1908 and available for private functions. It was thankfully restored in the early 1970s. But we mourn whatever stood next door only to be replaced by the grim Bank of Mexico building. Photo: Lee Steele / Yucatán Magazine

8Fenced in

Near Calle 41 is this ornate little jewel. A bank hasn’t rescued this, but we still feel it’s underutilized. The appendage to the left was a guayabera shop until recently. Photo: Lee Steele / Yucatán Magazine

9Instituto Fonacot

Workers often line up before dawn for government loans. We’re glad at least this interesting building is still up and wonder what used to stand where its nondescript neighboring banks are now. If you look closely, you’ll see face masks affixed to the upstairs window embellishments. Photo: Lee Steele / Yucatán Magazine
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Lee Steele is the founding director of Roof Cat Media and has published Yucatán Magazine and other titles since 2012. Sign up for our weekly newsletters, so our best stories will appear in your inbox every Monday.