Walls full of history; The first jail in Mazatlan


Nestled in the streets of Old Mazatlan, three centuries ago it was a criminal jail, today it is a carpenters storage.

Mazatlan, Sin. – In the old Mazatlan,building preserves stories that have given life to the city, three centuries ago it was a shelter for criminals, today it is a carpenters storage.

The historian and chronicler, Joaquín López Hernández, says that when any town is created it is essential that it has a church, a market and a prison.

Precisely, the indications of what was the first Mazatlan prison still exist and are located a few meters from the first parish of the municipality, San José, and the market that once was in what is now the “Engineer Manuel Bonilla” library.

Of these three buildings, only the religious precinct is standing, while the prison contains some original parts of the property, which show what prison was like three centuries ago.

López Hernández says that the prison could have been built at the beginning of the 19th century, and is even considered older than the Customs building, which today houses the Tax Administration Service.

He acknowledges that there are not many writings on the prisons that have been in Mazatlan, but the little information needs to be found that the one between the First Peñuelas streets, March 21, Company and Campana, is the first in the municipality.

“All those buildings date from 1820, 1821 to here, although there were others much older, but currently there is nothing left, there is no trace of them in the city.”

The location where the three buildings were previously makes a lot of sense since they were built where the mass of the population was normally located.

Born in Independence

For information collected, says the historian, the galley of Old Mazatlan could have been built at the time of Independence, where the port, like others, had surveillance, whose administration was at the point known as El Presidio, 45 kilometers away. from town.

“Almost all the ports were handled like this, like San Blas, where the entire administration was in Tepic, while Mazatlan had it in El Presidio and Altata in Culiacán.”

Therefore, he said, all these settlements from an early age were insecure, because the pirates arrived and ransacked the small population that lived in the so-called Pearl of the Pacific and the now municipality of El Rosario.

After founding Mazatlan as a city, he said, it is how the authorities of three centuries ago began with the construction of a space, which would allow maintaining and housing all those who committed a crime.

The historian mentions that the also known as “Land of Deer”, had other points that had to do with the first jail, as was the fort that was only 6 blocks to the east.

The entrance of the carpentry, where the vestiges of the prison are located, is located on First Peñuelas Street. Photo: José Luis Rodríguez

Currently, this place is home to the “General Antonio Rosales” elementary school, which was created 80 years ago, and which at the time was the scene of battles where the detainees passed to the prison in the center of the municipality.

The property, he says, had cannons, which, according to evidence, had been used in a confrontations

This space, he says, is related to the prison and the church, which was built at the same time, after forming the city of Mazatlan, which was originally founded in 1531, which was in what is now the union of Villa Unión.

The smithy of the property is the same as the prison had since its construction.

Wooden prisoners

A little over 10 years ago, a property located on First Peñuelas Street was acquired to house a carpenter, which today is only used as a wooden warehouse.

On the outside, the remains of what was part of the prison’s facade, which, according to the neighbors, housed women who had committed a crime remain.

This small space corresponds to 25% of the block in which the prison property was located, which, when it stopped working, was sold in parts by the authority to the population.

While most of the properties were rebuilt, the timber business still retains the walls, windows, bars, and details of what was the building in its time.

Among the tables are the latest indications of what were the jail’s jaws. Photo: José Luis Rodríguez

Survive the years

Inside, the situation changes, because, despite the stacking of wood, you can see the outline of guard towers, bathrooms and even a small esplanade could be.

The historian, he says, the blacksmith shop in that place is the same one that occupied the prison, whose thickness made it impossible for the inmates to try to escape while trying to cut it.

“There are the vestiges in the carpentry, the area that is on the back, the one that passes through the school, and corresponds to a part where there were guard towers, while in the corner there is what was a kind of guardhouse.”

The material that has survived, he said, is due to the alloys with which they were built, mainly the blacksmith shop found in the windows of the building.

What people count

There are many stories told about this place, stories that have been passed down from generation to generation, in which they ensure the appearance of strange noises or spirits.

Carpentry staff ensures that what they hear between the walls of the old prison is due to the same noise that is trapped in the corners, as if they were bubbles that suddenly burst.

However, there are those who point out that they suddenly feel as if someone is touching their backs, but when they turn around they see nothing, only the wood piled up on the sides of the ancient property.

Even former workers comment that in that same place they have found indications related to the life that was carried there, as is the finding of a gun of the time, which, when brought to light, crumbled as if it were dust.

Incomplete history

Investigations to learn a little more about the history of the first Mazatlan jail, he says, has been halted by the damage that the municipal archive has presented.

He said that at the time the site that keeps the documentation of the port was changed, so the transfer from one point to another caused much information to be damaged.

So far, he acknowledges, it is not known what the damage that the municipal archive presents, as well as the possible disappearance of papers that have to do with the history of Mazatlan, including those of the prison of the first cadre of the city.

For now, he said, the few data he has collected have allowed him to assemble the puzzle of a property, which is part of the growth of the municipality and that today is unarmed, being sold in parts, which now give a different aspect at the time of three centuries ago.

Source: el sol de mazatlan

The Mazatlan Post