Quinta Mazatlan: An Adobe Mansion

I’m fascinated by Renaissance men and women, those humans who did extraordinary things during their lifetimes but lived in relative obscurity  sometimes far from the power capitals of the world like New York.  Jason Chilton Matthews was a true Renaissance man.   If you’ve never heard of him, you’re like me until I visited Quinta Mazatlan.

As a  young man writing and seeking adventures Matthews traveled the world.  During World War I he served in 11 countries and knew Lawrence of Arabia.  When he was 48, he and his wife Marcia moved to McAllen and built Quinta Mazatlan.  He described this then small town of 300 and his house there as the Crossroads of the Western Hemisphere.  I’d like to know why.  His mansion had a Roman bath, which you will see on a tour, and he invented an adobe brick for Quinta Mazatlan’s construction.  The locals told him that rain would melt his house, but it’s still standing.  The beams in Cedar Hall were said to be a gift from the King of Lebanon.  While living here, Matthews mastered hydroponics.  Towards the end of his life, he and his wife edited and published a magazine called American Mercury from their home,  This was a very influential magazine at this time that published the writings of William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Langston Hughes, etc.

Quinta Mazatlan was restored and enlarged by Frank, a citrus baron, and Marilyn Schultz in the late 1960s.  A lot of the plants you see today as you walk the property’s trails looking at local animals were planted by them.  A huge Western Soapberry tree, for example,  is especially attractive to birds and butterflies.  The City of McAllen bought the estate in 1998 for more than a million dollars, but it wasn’t opened to the public until 2006.   Today it’s McAllen’s best tourist attraction and one of the 9 birding centers in the Rio Grande Valley.

Most visitors tour the house and see, among its wonders, the Ann Maddox Moore folk art collection, before strolling many trails with names like Wildcat.  On some trails you see bronze sculptures of Texas fauna like a tree ocelot, a species that has not been seen for more than 100 years.  My favorite sculpture near the front steps was a Plain Chachalaca family.  Unfortunately, a few of the sculptures have either been removed or stolen.

Hank

About roadsrus

Since the beginning, I've had to avoid writing about the downside of travel in order to sell more than 100 articles. Just because something negative happened doesn't mean your trip was ruined. But tell that to publishers who are into 5-star cruise and tropical beach fantasies. I want to tell what happened on my way to the beach, and it may not have been all that pleasant. My number one rule of the road is...today's disaster is tomorrow's great story. My travel experiences have appeared in about twenty magazines and newspapers. I've been in all 50 states more than once and more than 50 countries. Ruth and I love to travel internationally--Japan, Canada, China, Argentina, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, etc. Within the next 2 years we will have visited all of the European countries. But our favorite destination is Australia. Ruth and I have been there 9 times. I've written a book about Australia's Outback, ALONE NEAR ALICE, which is available through both Amazon & Barnes & Noble. My first fictional work, MOVING FORWARD, GETTING NOWHERE, has recently been posted on Amazon. It's a contemporary, hopefully funny re-telling of The Odyssey. View all posts by roadsrus

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