General Canton and His Palace

Among all the mansions framing elegant Montejo Avenue in Merida city, Casa de Canton has become a well-known landmark for its exquisite neo-classical architecture, stately displayed in the corner of the aforesaid avenue and street 43. However, maybe

From then on, General Canton won the recognition of Porfirio Diaz and soon his popularity grew within the State of Yucatan as part of the conservative faction; he even made it to the state office in two occasions between 1898 & 1902. During that period the progressive (although ethnocentric) vision of President Porfirio Diaz opened doors to foreign investments and technology. General Canton was able then to invest part of his fortune in developing a railway between Valladolid, Merida and Progreso in order to transport henequen and other products for export.

When he finished his governorship, General Canton retired and decided to sell his railway so he could afford the construction of a sumptuous residence in a modern and elegant district of recent creation in Merida. Throughout Porfirio Diaz’ era Europeanization of Mexico was in fashion, so he ordered the design and construction to Italian architects and contractors, which conceived such residence in an eclectic beaux arts style, the latest trend in Europe at the same time. All materials and decoration details were brought from the Old Continent, even the first elevator in the peninsula, designed and built in Germany.

General Canton passed away in 1917. He inherited his residence to his descendants, who sold it to the state government in 1932 so they could solve their difficult financial situation when the henequen was substituted by synthetic fibers. The house first became a school and then the official residence of the governors of the State of Yucatan, but since 1966 it houses the Regional Anthropology and History Museum, which contains an important pre-Hispanic Mayan art collection.

This residence has even been called “Palace” for its beauty and majesty. However, leaving definitions aside, no one doubts that Casa de Canton is the jewel of the aristocratic flair Merida (the White) city has.

General Francisco Canton Rosado was born in the city of Valladolid, Yucatan in 1833, in the bosom of a wealthy family owning cattle haciendas. He might have taken the army career because he was forced to protect his lands from the Mayan revolt in the south of the state; he even took an outstanding part in the Chan Santa Cruz (now Felipe Carrillo Puerto in the state of Quintana Roo) siege. Through this action the federal government was able to extinguish the Mayan resistance in the so-called Casts War.