Laredo Cultural District will soon be housed in Laredo’s oldest continually occupied residence. With generous cooperation with Webb County, we will be able to work within the district to amplify the artistic and cultural events and outreach for the sake of our community.
Even though there is no exact date as to when Casa Ortíz was originally built, it is believed to have been constructed between 1829 and 1830. Documentation proves that Don Jose Reyes Ortíz was granted the land on June 13, 1826 by the alcalde (mayor) of Villa Palafox. Ortiz’s great-granddaughter, Mrs. Bruna Puig Sutton believes Casa Ortíz was built during the time when “land titles were still administered by Mexico.”
Casa Ortíz was constructed using a combination of great stones, brick, wood, rafters, and doors. Some of the items at Casa Ortíz were believed to been hauled to the site from the outlying ranch areas, while others were carried to Laredo by ox-wagons from Corpus Christi. The items transported through ox-wagons would at times take a month or more to reach their destinations. It is believed that the home and its furnishings were afforded by the brisk trade which developed for the local products of wool, hides, and tallow. It is assumed that the house’s construction was interrupted by Indian fights and famines due to political upheavals.
After the completion of its construction, Casa Ortíz became a resting place for travelers and visitors arriving from México. Friends of the family are believed to have enjoyed gracious hospitality during their stay at the house. The residence also witnessed important political meetings at the time. It is also believed that gun fights with raiding Indian bands developed at Casa Ortíz due to the location of the house that faces the San Agustín Church and the Main Plaza at that time. Casa Ortíz served as a refuge for many Catholic Clergy during the persecution of the Catholic Church in México during the administration of President Plutarco Elias Calles in 1924.
Casa Ortíz still retains most of its original layout and appearance in general; it has undergone various repairs with each generation that has lived in the house, maintaining the building in excellent conditions until today. The house continues to feature wide board floors, hand paneling of doors, a cistern, bars in most doors, and huge locks and keys.
Casa Ortíz was recorded Texas Historical Landmark in 1964 becoming one of Laredo’s most precious legacies.
Taken from Texas A&M International University Texas A&M International University (tamiu.edu)