New York fashion designer Jenne Maag’s Centro home will always be stylish

Jenne Maag’s Mérida home has no shortage of drama. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Texas native Jenne Maag is known in the fashion world for her SoHo boutique of the same name. Her lesser-known project began almost 20 years ago when she envisioned a romantically decorated caisson on Calle 47 in Mérida.

“What do you know about the history of the house?” I’m asking. “Nothing,” comes the quick reply.

The rear garden is one of the more recent improvements at Jenne Maag’s Mérida casona. Photo: Lee Steele / Yucatán Magazine

“I bought it online without coming to look at it in 2004,” says Maag. “When I called them, they said, ‘Has someone already bought it,’ so I asked, ‘Did they leave a check?’ And they said no. And I said, ‘I’ll send you one today.’ So I sent them a check.”

“I sold all my houses and kept this one to live in. I didn’t know anything.” I didn’t know anyone in Mérida,” says Jenne.

New York fashion designer Jenne Maag has wanted one of these historic downtown mansions since the early 1980s. Now, at 18, she lives in one of them and her charming home is still a work in progress. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

She doesn’t regret growing up when most expats were buying modest homes.

“Since I’ve been here, all my friends have improved their houses,” he adds. “I’m the only one who kept the same house because I bought what I wanted.

Much of the furniture in one sitting area comes from her apartment on West 57th Street overlooking Carnegie Hall in New York. Also owns homes in Cornwall Bridge, Conn.; and Chianti, Italy. But ever since she first came here on holiday in 1982, she had dreamed of a house in Mérida.

“It was really cool,” Jenne recalls. “For sale was just the castle behind the house, all in disrepair, which I loved. So I’ve always said I’d like to have a house there.’

She improved an already perfect house. Jenne expanded the house from two bedrooms to five, now 9,000 square feet, complete with a striking mirrored pool that runs alongside the downstairs bedrooms.

The rear garden is one of the more recent improvements at Jenne Maag’s Mérida casona. Photo: Lee Steele / Yucatán Magazine

The rear garden has recently been enhanced with a fountain and stone walls. He has five busts along the way for the planters. Behind the pool are her “Nefertiti”, the three royal ladies. They are proof of her talent.

“I had those heads carved. And the carver had never made a head before,” Jenne tells me. “He didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Spanish. But I told him what I wanted.”

The rear of the house rises above the garden and is surrounded by elegant and ornate metal elements. He points to the “opium den” – what he calls an extravagant upstairs lounge.

The previous owner and original renovator, Raymond, left Mérida for the United States, his legacy is about 10 beautiful houses in the Center. Two have become hotels, Jenne informs me.

“When I die or sell or whatever, they’re going to turn it into a hotel,” Jenne says. “I think this is the best house he’s done.

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