NW Quadrant, East of Rock Creek, Columbia Heights/Mount Pleasant, Architecturally Significant, Diplomats, Journalists, Latino, Major Literary Awardees, Radicals, Showbiz, Also of Interest

Carlos Fuentes
(January 28, 1928 – August 27, 2012)

Mexican Cultural Institute, (The MacVeagh Residence), 2829 16th Street, NW, Columbia Heights neighborhood, DC.

Fuentes was one of the most internationally celebrated authors and public intellectuals of the last half of the 20th century. A member of the Latin American Boom generation that included among others Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Julio Cortazar, Fuentes was the author of 46 books of novels, short stories and essays, along with five plays and eight screenplays. He is best remembered for his novels The Death of Artemio Cruz (1962) and The Old Gringo (1985) based on the life of Ambrose Bierce, which was made into a film starring Gregory Peck, Jane Fonda, and Jimmy Smits. The book was the first novel by a Mexican author to become a U.S. bestseller.

Fuentes lived in this house from 1934 to 1940 while his father was posted to the Mexican Embassy in Washington, DC. He attended English-language school, eventually becoming fluent. In a 2005 interview, Fuentes recalled that he began writing while living in the capital, starting a magazine of his drawings, commentary, news, film reviews and drawings. "I took it round all the apartments in the block. I didn't get much reaction, but from then on I knew I wanted to be a writer."

Architect: Nathan C. Wyeth.
Year: 1911.
Commissioned by Secretary of the Treasury Franklin MacVeagh, this 26-room Beaux Arts mansion had the largest dining room in the city at the time it was built. His widow sold it to the Government of Mexico in 1921. In 1934, a mural by Cuevo del Rio was added to the grand staircase and second floor landing. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.


Historic photo courtesy of Library of Congress.