EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – A home in El Paso is connected to the infamous Pancho Villa, and where historians say he kept some of his hidden treasure.
Dr. David Romo, an El Paso historian, said the home had a big impact in Central Mexico.
“This house is important because it was part of a grid,” Romo said.”A grid of underground activities.”
The home, built in about 1899, is located in Downtown El Paso on Leon Street.
“I would say that El Paso was Pancho Villa’s favorite city,” Romo said.
Romo said even prior to the Mexican Revolution, Villa worked in El Paso.
“There’s all these oral histories that he worked taking care of fighting roosters,” Romo said.
“That he possibly worked in Asarco.”
When the revolution began, Romo says Villa accompanied Francisco Madero, who challenged long-time president Porfirio Diaz sparking the revolution.
“The Mexican Revolution was the first major social revolution in the 20th century,” Romo said.
El Paso was the perfect place for Villa, Romo said.
“It close enough to Mexico,” he said, “but far enough because it was difficult for president Porfirio Diaz or the feds to capture them.”
Romo said the city served as the perfect plotting ground and the home was used to smuggle weapons and valuables. The U.S. Treasury Department and other intelligence agencies were on the lookout for activity. Agents would stand in front of the home and observe who was arriving and leaving, Romo said.
The home was raided by the us government in November 1915. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were confiscated, as well as $30,000 in jewelry.
“I dont think (the raid) would hold in a court of law today because they have no proof that was smuggled,” Romo said.
The home made of adobe was renovated by entrepreneur Enrique Guajardo. He said he found the home abandoned and decided to purchase it. The home needed an overhaul of work, walls were falling apart and its wooden floors were in distress.
As Guajardo and his team kept sifting through the old abandoned home the more they found.
“It was very exciting picking up stuff,” Guajardo said. “(We found) ammunition boxes, a cannon ball and coins.”
Guajardo found a neat way to showcase what could have been Villa’s stash. Hidden among the old wooden floors is a place where the treasure may have been kept.
Cindy Medina, binational cultural publicist for the home said she anticipates more events as things stabilize with the pandemic. Medina said after the home was renovated, an opening was held in February 2020.
There is much interest in the home, she said.
“Historians from both sides of the border came,” Medina said. “It was an amazing event with a lot heart.”
Medina said there will be more events in the future, like tours for schools. Medina also said she works closely with the Villa family.
“This is going to be a gallery, a place for people to talk about the Mexican Revolution,” she said. “Most importantly we want to have history chats, and let people embrace their history.”
Guajardo also has big plans for the home, he plans to transform it into the restaurant and gallery in the near future.