TBT: The Thornforest

Quinta Mazatlan has gone through many changes throughout its existence. The estate grounds are no exception. The Matthews family cleared surrounding land to grow a variety of fruit trees and plants for food. The Schultz family continued that practice by purchasing more property surrounding the mansion and growing citrus.

The archway to the thorn forest gives you a visual to what the estate grounds use to look like previous to 1935. Many guests have passed through the doorway to the thorn forest that was recreated in February 2008. Countless families and nature lovers have passed through on their way to explore the plant life, look for birds, search out butterflies, and spend time outdoors. archway

A variety of trees, shrubs, and plants makeup the thorn forest at Quinta Mazatlan. The assortment of vegetation attracts a variety of birds and butterflies to the estate. The gate keepers for the estate are none other than the Plain Chachalacas, which are bountiful. Buff-bellied Hummingbirds will entertain you with their aerial acrobatics. Green Parakeets chatter to you from their condo homes in the palms. Butterflies are also bountiful within the thorn forest. Monarch, Large Orange Sulphur, Giant Swallowtail, Red-bordered Pixie and many others types of butterflies flutter around the thorn forest searching for flowering plants to get a meal.

Though many trails meander around the estate, they all lead back to the historical mansion. Quinta Mazatlan provides the community with an urban sanctuary working to enrich people’s lives by sharing knowledge about birds, plants, and environmental stewardship in South Texas.

Want to learn more about Quinta Mazatlan? All public tours are included in admission fee: Songbird Strolls on Tuesdays and Saturdays 8:30-10:00 am, Garden Walk & Talk on Wednesdays 10:00-11:00 am, Forest Sculpture Trail Tours on Thursdays 10:00-11:00 am, and History of Quinta Mazatlan Tours on Fridays 10:00-11:00 am. Groups of 10 or more are required to book a private tour.

Admission Fee:
$2 Children under 12, $2 Senior Citizens and $3 Adults
Free admission to members and children ages 2 years & under.
Come visit us at 600 Sunset Drive in McAllen, give us a call at 956-681-3370, or visit our website atwww.quintamazatlan.com for more information.


TBT: The Iron Gate

dfhgzdfIt was no mystery that the Matthews expressed strong Pro-American views and were anti-Communist. They edited and published the American Mercury magazine from Quinta Mazatlan, and Mrs. Matthews was known to do a radio broadcast promoting pro-American views. The design and construction of Quinta Mazatlan was meticulously done in Spanish Colonial Revival architecture to secure and seclude the family from the outside world if need be.

iron-gates-5-27-16-1One of the architectural features of the Spanish Revival is a courtyard. Quinta Mazatlan is designed in a U-shape with a courtyard. The courtyard’s gates are of ornamental and decorative wrought iron design. Finely crafted iron gates are either straight or single arch top with vertical bars and scroll designs. The ornamental iron work has withstood the test of time. Two of the gates stand an imposing 6’ by 8’ and another stands a modest 4’ by 4’. A crude but efficient sliding bolt system is used to secure and lock the gates. These gates have seen many a person enter and exit the courtyard. One can only imagine the many interesting guests that have passed through these gates.

rggfThe courtyard gates are always open these days at Quinta Mazatlan, allowing our guests to explore the estate. Quinta Mazatlan is one of the City of McAllen’s urban sanctuaries that continuously work to enrich people’s lives by sharing knowledge about birds, plants, and environmental stewardship in South Texas.

Want to know more about the history of Quinta Mazatlan? Guided history tours will start up in October and are held every Friday at 10am. The tour is included with general admission ($3). Come visit us at 600 Sunset Drive in McAllen. For more information, Visit our website atwww.quintamazatlan.com.iron-gates-5-27-16-8

TBT: Beware the Agapanthus

Agapanthus SignThe odd but mysterious home built in the thorn forest was always a curiosity for those who did not have the privilege of visiting it. Quinta Mazatlan’s builders and owners, Jason and Marcia Matthews, selected this piece of property for its geological and geographical location: geological because they had access to natural gas and a water well, and geographical since it sits on a knoll and is way out of town but close to the airport.

Needless to say, they liked their privacy and didn’t welcome unwanted guests. At the entrance of the gated property sat a sign that read, “WARNING: BEWARE OF AGAPANTHUS. IF ATTACKED, BACK AWAY SLOWLY.” Many would-be intruders would be deterred, not knowing what Agapanthus really was. Was it a vicious animal or some kind of deranged person? With a little research they would have realized that Agapanthus is the scientific name for the stunning – and innocent – Lily of the Nile plant. Agapanthus is an easy-to-grow perennial which produces colorful spheres of blue or white trumpet-shape flowers in summer and fall.

agapanthus.2Though the sign still exists at Quinta Mazatlan, we extend a warm welcome to everyone. Quinta Mazatlan is the City of McAllen’s urban sanctuary that continuously works to enrich people’s lives by sharing knowledge about birds, plants, and environmental stewardship in South Texas.

Do you enjoy reading the Throw Back Thursday posts each week? Mark you calendars for Fridays at 10am October-April. We will soon be starting up our historical tours of the grounds and mansion!

TBT: Natural Resources

Living off the land was one of Mr. and Mrs. Matthews greatest need.  They decided to purchase the land where Quinta Mazatlan now sits, because of its geological resources.  Being one of the highest areas in McAllen, the Matthews would not have to worry about being flooded during a storm. This high knoll would allow them to see if any communist planes were approaching the area.  Two other resources they needed to be self-sustaining at the time were natural gas and water. Gas fire place 1

As you stroll up to the main house at Quinta Mazatlan, you will notice your walk gets a little tougher as you approach the home.  That is because Quinta Mazatlan sits on what is called a gas dome.  Beneath the area is a pocket of natural gas.  It has been reported that Mr. Matthews made a deal with the owners of the gas company at the time to get free gas for 50 years.  He used this natural resource to its full capacity.  Quinta Mazatlan was heated with natural gas in all its fireplaces.  Gas jets poked out of the walls to offer lanterns as a lighting source.  A gas stove was a must to cook their meals, and to refrigerate their food, it was conveyed that the refrigerators and freezers all ran on natural gas.    The ultimate use of the gas was to heat the enormous swimming pool year round.  Even in the chilliest winter days, the Matthews would be able to take a swim in their pool.

Water Well MatthewsThe cistern in the court yard offered another natural resource. Since its creation by the Matthews, the well has offered water for the families’ everyday use, including to fill the pool.  The pool water would be recycled back into the well by draining it down the hill to the surrounding fields of crops and orchards.  Water was also one of the key components needed in order for Mr. Matthews to work his hydroponics experiments.

When the Schultz family purchased Quinta Mazatlan in 1968, they kept using the gas heaters, stove, and pool.  The home was modernized by installing electrical wiring discreetly.  A heating and cooling system throughout the home kept Quinta Mazatlan at a comfortable temperature.  A filtration system for the pool would soon be added, and as soon as the contract with the gas company ran out, the pool was no longer heated.  Quinta Mazatlan slowly became more modernized, but still keep its historic value and structure.

Water well bell 7Just like natural resources are provided by the Earth for humans to use, Quinta Mazatlan continues to provide the community with an urban sanctuary working to enrich people’s lives by sharing knowledge about birds, plants, and environmental stewardship in South Texas.  Come out to Quinta Mazatlán and capture a picture of the gas heaters and/or cistern.  Post it on any of our Social Media and tag Quinta Mazatlan.  Get to sleuthing….

TBT: Bolts and Locks

Antique French Slide Bolt Door LatchPeace of mind is a matter of choice. In the late 1930’s, when Quinta Mazatlan was built on the outskirts of the McAllen city limits, security was of the utmost importance. It has been reported that Mr. and Mrs. Matthews secured the estate with crude items. Tripwires, empty cans, and bells were placed around the thorn forest of Quinta Mazatlan to notify the Matthews if an intruder had entered the estate.

Antique Latch Hook LockThe home itself was a fortress to be reckoned with. Quinta Mazatlan originally had five entrance doors: one front door and four others that lead out to the rear courtyard. Each outside door had a sliding bolt to secure it with an added safeguard – an iron prison gate. The nightly routine was to close and bolt the doors leading out of the home and close the iron gates behind them. There was an iron gate within the master bedroom also. The Matthews would close and bolt the master bedroom door and close an iron gate behind it to secure themselves within the master bedroom. The Matthews safeguarded their home with rudimentary items to gain a sense of security.

Antique Shutter Slide BoltIf you can’t find the key to success, pick the lock. Come out to Quinta Mazatlán and observe the bolts and locks in this Spanish Colonial Revival home. Capture a picture of any of the “Quinta Bolts and Locks”, post it on any of our social media, and tag Quinta Mazatlán. Get to sleuthing….

Antique French Slide Bolt Door Latch1

TBT: Oenology

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new”(Albert Einstein) is a quote the Matthews and Schultz families lived by. A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows or gets accomplished there. The many successes that the families of Quinta Mazatlan accomplished were because they got out of their comfort zone.


Inspecting the wine grapes.

During the citrus off season, Mr. Frank Schultz enlisted the help of friends and family to assist him with his new venture: vinification (winemaking). Mr. Schultz, who was a great chemist, was the oenologist or vintner. Oenology is the science of wine and winemaking.



Pressing the grapes to create ‘must’.

Mike Griffin, who owned a packing shed, would get truckloads of wine grapes from a California connection. Mr. Schultz and his crew would carefully inspect the grapes to make sure they were of the highest quality. After inspection, the wine grapes were washed, destemmed, and pressed. The resulting liquid is called ‘must’, and it still contained some pieces of skin and seed. The solids are called pomace.

The ‘must’ was allowed to ferment in 55 gallon metal drums lined with thick plastic bags. After fermentation the ‘must’ was placed in a basket press to get every last drop of wine out. The wine was then allowed to age in 35 gallon wooden oak barrels from France. Max Burkhart of Val Con construction assembled a wine cellar to store the barrels.


A basket press was used to separate the wine from the ‘must’.

The next step was to bottle the final product. Family members would assist by washing, filling, and labeling the wine bottles. Schultz Estates created Quinta Mazatlán 1970 Grand Classe French Beaujolais Red, 1972 Zinfandel Schultz Estates and 1979 Partridge Eye Pinot Chardonnay Schultz Estates.

Get out of your comfort zone, and try something new in your life. Venture out to Quinta Mazatlan for a nature walk or history tour. Volunteer on Wednesdays or Saturdays; anything from office work to garden work is always needed. Attend our Thursday Family Nights or bring your kids out to Saturday Discovery Days. Or, maybe try your hand at making wine at home!

Quinta Mazatlan World Birding Center is located at 600 Sunset in McAllen, one block south of La Plaza Mall in 10th Street. For more information contact Quinta Mazatlan at (956) 681-3370 or visithttp://www.quintamazatlan.com.wine bottles

TBT: Books

Quinta Mazatlan offers a tranquil and serene place that allows one to let their creativity flow. Mr. Jason Matthews wrote his book, Flame and Melody, while he owned the home. Flame and Melody was published in 1952 and 1953 by Marc Bien Publishers, Chicago, IL. It is a collection of 55 poems and unpublished lyrics that Mr. Matthews put together to share with the world. The book was dedicated to his beloved wife, Marcia Matthews. By this time they had been together for over 10 years.
The Author’s Forward is rather steamy for its time. Mr. Matthews writes about who should and shouldn’t read the book. He states that Flame and Melody is not for the eyes of the old nor the young. It is raw with the heartbeat of the old’s yesterdays and the young’s tomorrows yet come.
Mr. Matthews’ standard author’s royalty for Flame and Melody was donated to the Damon Runyon Cancer Fund and Member American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. One unique feature of the Flame and Melody is that the Table of Contents is in alphabetical order by the titles of the poems and lyrics. The traditional order by subject matter was not followed.“American Mercury Magazine” was a monthly magazine that Mr. and Mrs. Matthews owned, published and edited. The magazine attracted conservative writers. Along with “Legion for the Survival Freedom”, the Matthews turned the magazine into a virulently anti-Sematic publication. It was published monthly in New York City.

Mrs. Marilyn Schultz’s career as a direct mail marketing entrepreneur began in 1974 when she founded Gallery Editions Limited, a commemorative plate and collectibles company in McAllen. In 1985, she sold the company and became a consultant for direct mail marketing. In 1988, she wrote a book for the beginner who wanted to make money in mail order. The title of the book is “Mail Order on the Kitchen Table.” The book was published by Tribute, Inc., McAllen, TX.The book was written, “…for you, a wisher and dreamer, a chance-taker, someone who what’s to put to use your creativity, ingenuity and good old American hustle to get more money and more joy out of life.” Mrs. Schultz penned the book in 21 months.A notable feature of the book was that it included a floppy disk which could be used with the Macintosh or IBM computer. It had to be the first or at least one of the first books you could purchase with a floppy disk.  

For $45 at the time, you could attend seminars Mrs. Schultz taught at the former Pan American University. She used a “Mail Order on the Kitchen Table” textbook and the floppy disk to instruct the seminars. In the acknowledgments page Mrs. Schultz thanks everyone from the Postmaster to the Schultzes.  

Mrs. Schultz was nominated and inducted into several organizations such as Copywriters’ Council of America, Direct Marketing Woman of the Year, Woman’s Direct Response Group’s Direct Marketing and MKT at University of Texas Pan American.
Quinta Mazatlan is an oasis for inspiration and creativity. Everything from poetry to how to make extra money has been penned here. Come over and find your inner creative person or get a new inspiration into your life. Enjoy the history of Quinta Mazatlan during our guided History Tours on Friday mornings at 10am.