Historic Homes of Todos Santos

BY: MARLA O'BRIEN

In the late 1800s when Cabo San Lucas was only a lonely fishing outpost, Todos Santos was a thriving village thanks to sugar cane grown in its fertile valley. During this time, numerous buildings were erected that still stand today.

On Saturday, March 7, you will have an opportunity to take a journey back in time at the 2020 Historic Home Tour of Todos Santos. This self-guided walking tour of the town’s historic central district is only held once every two years and provides a fascinating glimpse into what life was like for the pueblo’s early settlers. On this day several of the private residences open their doors to tour-takers.

“The high ceilings and crown mouldings in these historic homes are fabulous to see,” says tour coordinator Paul Bumann. “Everyone gets maps and a booklet with descriptions of the buildings and their histories.” 

The original mission, located where the Mision Santa Rosa de les Palmas currently sits at the west end of the town plaza, was established in 1723 in Jesuit priests. 

“But the town really exploded during sugar cane production in the late 1800s and early 1900s,” Bumann explained. “It’s all dirt around this area, but the palm tree oasis in the barrio goes inland three miles and was perfect for growing sugar cane.” 

At the height of its former prosperity, there were five “molinos” (sugar cane processing plants) in Todos Santos that milled a brown sugar called panocha. 

One of the mills has now become the El Molino Trailer Park west of the Pemex, the only stop on the tour outside of downtown. 

“This place is really interesting to see. They still have many original parts where sugar cane was pressed to extract the juice and it will be on display during the tour.” 

There will be many other intriguing facts to discover on the day. For example, many may not be aware of the significant role Chinese families have played in the history of Todos Santos. Several buildings were built by settlers from China, including the famed Hotel California in 1950. 

Rather than give away all the tour’s secrets, mark your calendars for March 7 between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Over 50 volunteer docents will be on hand during the day to answer questions and direct visitors. The day also includes a “Find the Saints” contest. 

“Many of the buildings and alcoves have a statue of a saint. Those who find them all and mark them correctly on their maps will be eligible for a draw,” explained Bumann. “A winner will be drawn at 3 p.m. and get an autographed Kate Turning poster.” 

Tickets are $20 USD or 400 MXN, available the morning of the event in front of the Cultural Center on Calle Benito Juarez, or purchase tickets ahead of time on Eventbrite.com. Proceeds from the tour go to support the educational programs of the Palapa Society in Todos Santos.

For the first time, the local real estate company Coldwell Banker Riveras has agreed to sponsor the Historic Home Tour. Their contribution covers the costs of map and booklet production so all ticket sales directly benefit the Palapa Society. 

Coldwell Banker Riveras has a long history of partnering with the Palapa Society and has contributed to its scholarship and educational programs for six years.