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Hotel San Francisco Plaza

History: 
    Hotel San Francisco Plaza
 in Guadalajara

History

After the founding of Guadalajara on February 14, 1542, a layout of the city was made. Since it had the primitive convent of the Franciscan priests as a fulcrum, said trace went to the south of the first Main Square (today Degollado Theater) being on the bank of the river that afterwards would be named San Juan de Dios. The outline, once it reached the point where the first walls of the Franciscan convent would be built, fractured the orthogonal outline and at that point, the tracing rope detoured and cornered an area, which then created a small triangular-shaped open space. Thus, this small tapatío corner was born in 1554 and became one of the central spots of the old city, where everything happened around it.

Over the years, these outlines would turn into streets, which were named depending on the period and trend. This is how the current Degollado street received the name of San Agustín, because it was next to the walls of that disappeared convent. Other names were Venus, Calderón, Constitución, Federación, Mesón de las Ánimas and Calle 8 before its current name. During this time, it was one of the “main streets” because it was a main road to communicate to the abovementioned important Franciscan convent in the heart of the city, the Main Square where the San Agustín, Santa María de Gracia, and the first church of Guadalajara, the San Miguel parish, were located, which officiously served as a Cathedral.

The corner integrated fully with the city, and grew and extended as the years went by. It lived together with the neighbors of the city, which visited the most important convent of all the viceregal period in this western region of the country. It was also a mandatory pass for the pedestrians that came from the royal path of Mexico.

It was during the 17th century that estates were being built, like the Maestranza quarters, a military space where the government stored weapons and ammunition that were manufactured there or received from other places. Other estates were jewels of Guadalajara’s cultural heritage, such as the house located in the north-west corner of Prisciliano Sánchez and Degollado, still showing adobe and quarry stone from that time.

It is said in legends, which has much truth, and also by researcher Ramiro Villaseñor in his work Las calles históricas de Guadalajara, that the aforesaid estate was used by the liberator priest Miguel Hidalgo. He established a short two-month stay in the city at the estate. It was turned into a powder magazine, which safeguarded the cannons that the insurgent priest from San Blas José María Mercado sent from the Spaniard fortress that watched over that important port in the Pacific. There is some truth in this because in the battle of Puente de Calderón, on January 181, among the list of cannons abandoned by Hidalgo and inventoried by the brigadier General Calleja after his victory over the priest, there were several of those.

The corner, a triangular open space known as Plazuela de San Francisco, was fit for lodging. At the time, there were two travelers’ inns. One was the Meson de las Ánimas, which was named after the street, and the other one, according to maps from 1753, occupies the site where the San Francisco Plaza Hotel sits today. It is very interesting that in the maps the word MESÓN can be clearly read on the site that would correspond to Degollado, between numbers 265 to 269, and others for their size due to the fact that houses of that period received not only travelers, but its horses as well, some walkers, and some muleteers lodged in this establishment. These maps were made so the king could know the existing number of convents in the capital city of Nueva Galicia, as well as highlighting some other important places.

In the maps of 1741, the limits of the block are perfectly marked and said establishment is fully confirmed as well. By the year 1800, when the area is surveyed and dedicated to the bishop Cabañas, it is so general that nothing can be identify except the block.

One can assume that with the arrival of Hidalgo to Guadalajara on November 28, 1810, his troops, the poorly organized multitude that entered with him to the city, most likely passed through this open space. Surely the officials would take advantage and seek accommodation at the inn, since Hidalgo kept his weapons stored in a house in the area.

During those years, the block was part of the 5th barrack - one of the many barracks in which the city was divided for its fiscal, administrative, and safety control. Through the years, it became part of the 1st barrack and it was identified in the Juárez Sector when Guadalajara was divided into four sectors, but for more than two hundred years, it has been block 31.

But, history moved forward, the Independence war was over, and a new independent period began. It is not known exactly when the Inn disappeared during the 19th century, but what is known is that in front of the estate, today a hotel, during the years of the Reform war and after the French intervention in 1865, there was an important carriage workshop from Genaro A. García. He manufactured the diligences of the time and the animal traction carriages, saloon cars, and others used by wealthy families.

As it turns out, Don Jesus Chacón, a businessman known for his commitment and solvency, and owner of the foreign and local diligence service, saw some novelty carriages that the invader brought for its militaries and high ranking officials of the new empire, decided to include them among its equipment and instead of bringing them from Europe, he went to Genaro García’s workshop, there in the old plazuela now Maestranza, to try to copy them with their novel adaptations, and this way, use them for rental and service.

Researchers, such as Orendáin, say that this is the origin of the famous calandrias (the original ones with its foldable rubber hood for rain) and the grand novelty was that it only needed one animal to be pulled. They say that the tradition is completed when they painted the wood in an intense yellow color and that people started calling them calandrias as remembrance to the yellow feathered singing bird which was typical to have in the usual tapatío patios adorned with plants and cages with other singing birds. The carriage had great success and even though the French were ultimately defeated and banished, they left these types of carriages, which 150 years later, still exist: the typical calandrias.

Later came the Porfirista era in which the city acquired a new aspect and some buildings and constructions where demolished to make way to new ones. The ones that were surrounding the Plazuela de la Maestranza, which by then only remained the traditional name that reminded the old viceregal quarters, they were not the exception. We know that these estates were remodeled or rebuilt by seigniorial characters such as Don Francisco Martínez Negrete Cortina, a leading figure of commerce and the incipient Guadalajara banking, founder of the La Experiencia factory and connected to illustrious families of the tapatía high society.

In 1986, Ramiro Villaseñor y Villaseñor comments in his work Las calles históricas de Guadalajara about the estates in front of the square in the east sidewalk:

“On the east side, there are four properties, the first two from the Porfirian era (sic today) damaged; on number 257 lived Don Francisco Martínez Negrete Cortina married to Doña Ana Palomar y Corcuera…. Afterwards on old number 45 (the numeration changed through the 1930s in the past century) was in 1905 the Colón Institute… (sic today) is in a remodeling process, leaving it better; will be the San Francisco hotel: the people in charge of the project are Pepe, Enrique, Valcárcel and architect Ernesto Padilla Aceves under the supervision of the National Institute of Anthropology and History…”

Thirty years ago, the great bibliographic expert Villaseñor y Villaseñor wrote this. Today, it is a reality and where there was a viceregal inn, one of the Porfirian houses that embellished Guadalajara was rebuilt with care.

But the story of the beautiful corner doesn’t end here because in the 20th century, in 1907, this area remained an obligated way to enter the city. When the San Pedro Sentry was nothing but a memory, there was already a network of electric trolleys - modernity had arrived - in front of the San Francisco Hotel. There was a rail for the trolley called San Pedro Tlaquepaque that was operated by the trolley company Luz y Fuerza de Guadalajara S.A., which started from the Juárez and Degollado corners and ended in the same site arriving from Corona. Another line that also ran through Degollado street in front of the hotel was the San Felipe line, East Circuit 3, which passed by the Chilean consulate located in Maestranza street between San Francisco alley (today Héroes) because the convent was already demolished. The most meaningful was the North circuit of that same line for the simple reason that this line started and ended no less than in the Plazuela de la Maestranza, where there was a small kiosk where an employee sold the tickets to the users.

Finally, changes in the government preferred to discard the name Plazuela de la Maestranza in order to pay tribute to an artist from Jalisco, the interpreter and composer Gonzalo Curiel who passed away in 1958; he is known as the music man of Mexican films. Thus the old name went away, along with the trolleys and passage to the city’s downtown.

Today the Gonzalo Curiel plazuela is called jardín, or garden, using the old name in memory of its new honor. In place of the kiosk is a fountain that has a column in the center with gargoyles, the floor was cobbled, trees were planted, and a plate allusive to the artist was placed.

The San Francisco Hotel can tell many stories, legends from the Franciscan convent, which was very close and this is its personal story.

Postscript

The Guadalajara San Francisco Hotel is located in one of the most traditional and antique corners of Guadalajara, an area full of tradition, a mandatory passage for hundreds of years to enter the city. It is a site for lodging in the old viceregal inns, illustrious ancestors of the modern hotels. Afterwards, houses belonging to the tapatía high aristocracy.

Enclave of inns, fray convent, consulates, stop and station of trolleys, all living in harmony in that traditional Guadalajara and today modern, always hospitable.

Juan Miguel Toscano García de Quevedo
Enrique Bautista González
Historians

Hotel San Francisco Plaza, a member of Historic Hotels Worldwide since 2016, dates back to 1896.


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International Numbers

Austria 08000706176
Belgium 080081830
France 805542721
Germany 8007241217
Ireland 1800995320
Italy 800979444
Netherlands 08000200956
Norway 80054304
Spain 900814719
Switzerland 0800001798
UK 8009179622
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