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Art Scene and Seen | John Dodge Meyer and Meryl Truett

A philosophy of life and architecture captured in a new book by Cathi and Steven House

This stunning book is a photographic journey through the history, culture and day-to-day beauty of life in San Miguel de Allende, considered by many to be one of the most picturesque towns in the world. 714 full color images in this extraordinary coffee table book capture the charm of the day to day rhythms and rituals that make San Miguel so magical. All of San Miguel’s 17th century architecture, people, festivals and cultures are represented. For those interested in Mexican history, culture and cuisine, anyone thinking of retiring abroad; ar-

tists, photographers or anthropologists, this book is essential.

It’s safe to say that Cathi and Steven House have a deep affinity for the myriad places they’ve lived, traveled and experienced. Married the day after graduating from Virginia Tech’s esteemed College of Architecture in the mid 1970’s, they made a conscious decision to immerse themselves in the culture and architecture of Europe, Asia, Africa and South America, to learn from hands on experience how to be better, more soulful architects.

It was on their first trip to Greece that they found themselves on the island of Santorini. There they had an epiphany; one of those moments of simple grace where they saw clearly the role their lives were meant to fill as architects. After six months on Santorini and more travel in Southern Europe, they were inspired to produce their first book: Mediterranean Villages: an architectural journey. Having established their architectural firm in San Francisco, flash forward to the late 1980’s and while researching building materials for a Caribbean resort, Cathi and Steven found themselves in San Miguel for the first time. They freely admit that they, like many Americans, knew little about Mexico at that time. But San Miguel cast its spell on them and they experienced a “spiritual awakening,” calling this discovered jewel “a warm, beautiful surprise.” Little did they know there were more surprises in store for them.

On a return trip in the early 1990’s they decided to explore the real estate market. After being shown several properties that failed to spark an interest, their agent suggested one more which was a vacant lot with an abandoned ruin. The agent didn’t hold out much hope, but immediately on entering this old “dirt filled, bug encrusted” space Cathi and Steven felt an extraordinary and unexplained connection that just seemed to get stronger as the minutes went by. While exploring this strangely magnetic site Steven decided to go to the corner tienda for a bottle of water. He came back excitedly and produced the bottle, revealing the serendipitous label “Santorini!”

Even more foretelling surprises were in store. They soon discovered that San Miguel’s brand new area code 415 matched their own in San Francisco and if that wasn’t enough, when they went looking for a gift for Cathi’s father, the first shop they went into proudly featured a t-shirt printed with a photo from Santorini and the words: Mirage - San Miguel de Allende. So the die was cast and Cathi and Steven House began their adventure in San Miguel de Allende. To say that Cathi and Steven House have indeed manifested that long ago inspiration would be an understatement. The publication of their fifth book; San Miguel de Allende: the soul of Mexico, is their latest literary achievement and it is a tour de force. Years of photographic and written documentation are combined into a definitive representation of this amazing Unesco World Heritage city.

The final serendipitous coincidence? The ultimate alignment of all things universal? The book’s compilation and design took place on… the island of Santorini. You can purchase San Miguel de Allende: the Soul of Mexico at Aurora Books in Colonia Guadalupe, at the Biblioteca Tienda in Centro or on

Meryl Truett is an artist and workshop instructor in SMA. You can view her work at or check her out on Instagram @madeinsma. John Dodge Meyer is an artist and writer living in San Miguel, working on his memoir about growing up in the Midwest.

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