The Epicenter Of Cultural Events In La Paz

BY: HANNAH GORSKI

Concerts, workshops, and art expositions seem to be going on all around us all the time in La Paz. The Foundation Festivities just celebrated the capital city’s 483rd birthday with famous singers and a reenactment of Cortés’ landing. Fireworks boomed, ballerinas danced, and at the culinary festival, new flavors mixed with old favorites.

This is possible in part, because of the Center of Arts, Traditions, and Popular Cultures of Baja California Sur. The center is housed in the Old Government House in La Paz, called the Antigua Casa de Gobierno in Spanish.

Located on the Plaza de la Constitución on Calle Francisco Madero, across from the Catedral de Nuestra Señora, the building’s function has changed throughout the years. General José María Rangel, the political chief of the Southern Territory at the time, laid the first stone back in 1880. The architect blended elements of Neoclassicism with the style of the 18th and 19th century missions that dot the peninsula. Bold angular moldings on the central tower give the building character that makes it stand out next to the other building around the plaza. Construction of the new Government House took just one year and there were plenty of people ready to move in.

The territory’s Political Chief set up offices and so did the territorial deputation. There were offices for the treasury too. As the main government building in town, a small jail opened and there was even room for the horse stables.

The building functioned in that capacity for a long time, until Bonifacio Salinas Leal became the governor of the Southern Territory of Baja California in 1959 and served until 1965. During that time, he tore down the Government House and constructed, of all things, a movie theater. The site functioned in one capacity or another until 1981, when the new governor ordered the Government House to be rebuilt according to the original designs.

The Southern California Youth Institute moved into the building and the Californias Library took over a portion of the site. Both institutions used the Government House as a center until 2010. That same year, the site was inaugurated as the Center of Arts, Traditions, and Popular Cultures of Baja California Sur.

Today, the Center holds two exhibition halls, room for workshops, and a garden. The work of the Center upholds traditions and promotes the unique arts and culture of Baja California Sur. The historic building reflects the ideals of the Center by remembering the region’s past while looking forward to the future. For more information on the Center and its good works, you can visit them at culturabcs.gob.mx/recinto/1.