Tour a French Mansion – The Palacete Los Moreau

Palacete los Moreau

This one was a surprise find for us — a French coffee hacienda in Puerto Rico! The Old Labadie House or the Palacete los Moreau is located in the town of Moca, in the north-west part of Puerto Rico. This lovely, old house has been turned into a museum, and they offer great, informative tours about the house and the people who lived there. What a wonderful piece of Puerto Rican history and a local treasure. I thought it was really worth a visit.

History of Palacete los Moreau

In the early-mid 1800s, when Spain wanted to increase development in Puerto Rico, the Spanish government offered incentives to foreigners to come to the island and start businesses. The original owners of this property, 3 brothers of the Peugeot (Pellot) family, came from France and purchased 1285 acres of land in Moca.

They started growing coffee, sugar cane, cutting lumber on the property, and raising cattle and various crops and animals for household use. It was a large and prosperous endeavor for a number of years. Of course, as was typical at that time, they had many slaves to help work the land.

Their caretaker, Mr. Juan Labadie (or Labaddie) (also from France), eventually bought the property from the brothers in 1860. He married a mulato woman named Cornelia, who was the illegitimate daughter of one of the original French owners and a freed slave. They continued to run the property and did very well. When Juan died in 1893, she continued to run the property and began construction on the house that is there today.

Palacete los Moreau

The large, 2-story mansion, built over a period of 12 years, looks like a French chateau. Cornelia used the first floor for business. The upper floor was used as the family’s living quarters. After the markets fell in the early-mid 20th century, the house was abandoned and eventually vandalized. In 1993, the town of Moca purchased the house and 100 acres of land, and have restored it to its former glory.

Back in it’s hayday, a local author, Enrique Laguerre, was a frequent guest at the mansion. The house and family inspired him to write a fictional novel called La Llamarada, in which he named the family who lived in the house Los Moreau. When the town of Moca acquired the property, they renamed it after the characters in Laguerre’s novel as an honor. Enrique Laguerre is interred on the property as per his final wishes.

The Tour of the House

What can I say? I really enjoyed it. I think this was one of the best tours we have been on here in Puerto Rico. Our tour guide was so earnest and excited about the house, its history and all the things the town is doing for the people — his enthusiasm was infectious! I fell in love with this house and the story!

Even though our guide did not speak perfect English, he did a great job of telling the story of the people and the property. He answered all of our questions, he had ghost stories, and explanations for things that could easily be overlooked — like the stained glass windows and the back stairs. I hope you al get a great guide…it really made the place come alive.

Palacete los Moreau

They allow you to walk through the house and the grounds and take all the pictures you want. There is even an original sugar cane train engine that transported the sugar cane from the fields to the ships or processing places.

Our guide told us about a film that was made at the house, in 1968 called Mulato. I was able to locate the film and view it at the Nacional Archivos here in PR. Since it was filmed before the vandalism, the town of Moca was able to use it as a reference when restoring the house.

Moca has done great things with this place. There is a library & computer room downstairs that local children can make use of after school for studying and using the internet. They offer the free tours to everyone. You can come and take your wedding photos on the grounds for a small fee. Every year they have a few fairs and family days on the property, so people can enjoy the place. And some of the land is even being farmed. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Hacienda Iruena Manor House.

The Details

Palacete los Moreau

Touring the house and property is free of charge. They don’t even accept donations or tips, since the property is managed by the town of Moca and the guides are municipal employees.

Technically, the grounds are open 7 days a week from 9am to 5pm, but they do maintenance on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so no tours are available, but you can walk the grounds. For a tour, go Thursday through Monday.

Allow an hour or 2.

You can call them at 787-830-4475 just to double check if they’re open and if tours are available the day you want to go.

Driving directions: Take Route 2 to KM 115.5 and get onto Route 464 south. Continue on Route 464 to KM 2.6, where you’ll turn right (there’s a Ruben Mini Mart on the corner). Then follow the signs.

Use this map to locate places mentioned in this article. You can click on a placemark to view the GPS coordinates for that place.

PuertoRicoDayTrips.com assumes no responsibility regarding your safety when participating in the activities described in this article. Please use common sense! If your mother or that little voice in your head tells you that you are about to do something stupid … then don't do it! Read more about Safety →

Comments & Discussion Leave a Comment »

There are 12 comments on this article. Add to the Discussion »

I have no idea really. Perhaps contact the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture and see if they have any ideas.

Comment by Gwenn on 18 Jan 2016

I have ancestors that were slaves in the early 1800; Merced, Gabriela, Candelaria, Santos Rosa. How can I obtain any records to continue my search on my family history? Thank you in advance <3

Comment by Irma Muniz Acevedo on 13 Jan 2016

I don't know for sure, but I would assume they will be closed all those days. But it is best to call and ask.

Comment by Gwenn on 19 Dec 2015

Planning a trip during the Easter Break, are they open on Good Friday, Palm Sunday or Easter Monday, would you happen to know?

Comment by Kara Turcotte on 12 Dec 2015

I may be able to provide a little perspective to the Labadie House. My wife and I lived in the lower left "apartment" between August of 1966 to October 1966. Mary Labadie was still living there at the time (2nd floor) and a single lady who was the librarian at Ramey AFB lived in the other apartment on the first floor. One main reason that the reconstruction was not not historically accurate was that they simply did not have many photos to go on. We visited the place in 1988 after it was abandoned and again after it was reconstructed. We did provide several pictures of the interior from we were residing there. (I was stationed at the Naval Radio Station, which was just across the main road.) We were the last tenants of that apartment, as it was struck by lightning in early October 1967, and was not rebuilt at the choice of Mrs. Labadie

Comment by David Jellison on 30 Nov 2015

Impresionante!! Rico en cultura. Pero como siempre, el estacionamiento que usan los empleados es frente con frente a la estructura quitandole la belleza a la misma. El público se tiene que estacionar en área destinada y un poco alejada para las personas con impedimento. Solicitamos un estacionamiento con uno de los empleados frente a la casa y nos indicaron que no, y al transcurso de unos 10 minutos llego otro empleado y se estacionó frente a la estructura.

Comment by Sandra on 28 Jul 2014

This place was gorgeous but my mother and I were very disappointed with the tour itself. The guides didn't seem to know much of anything, and there weren't many artifacts actually related to the Palacete itself. Instead there were several cases with items from the time period, and a few (literally, about 10 total) reproduced photographs and documents from the Pellot-Labadie estate. The guide did inform us that the original building burned down and had to be restored. They did not restore the interior to its original state for reasons that were not very clear to the guide--this was a typical response we received from the Palacete's caretakers and guides. The structure seems like it's been rebuilt to accommodate class trips and events, and less concerned with historical accuracy. Its worth a visit but don't expect to learn anything about Puerto Rican plantation culture.

Comment by Yayi on 01 Jun 2014

Thanks Todd for the update. We will put a note on the article with that info.

Comment by Gwenn on 26 Jan 2013

Love the site, always great information. Went to Palacete Los Moreau today and wanted to let any potential visitors know that the house is closed for tours while it is being refurbished. The guard did not know when the work would be complete so it is a good idea to call if you plan on touring the house. The grounds are still open to visitors.

Comment by Todd on 26 Jan 2013

In typical PR Day Trip fashion, this write-up was outstanding. I toured the place in 2006, and your write-up reminded me of everthing I remember, but also all the details that I had forgotten. It's not the type of place I would go WEST for specifically, but I would definitely recommend it to someone if you are out west doing other things. It's an enjoyeable stop.

Comment by Josh on 18 Jul 2011

This French "chateau" in the sleepy town is worth a visit if only to see the beautiful grounds of the property! Best to call in advance to ensure that someone us available to give a tour.. You can't believe you're looking at such a property in PR, it looks like the European countryside. In the nearby town of Moca is the Mundillo Museum, a tiny jewel box of a place featuring the intricate lace made famous here...these two spots make a great day trip to Moca worthwhile!

Comment by Amy T. on 15 Jan 2011

Puerto Rico tourism should link to your site for content! Lord knows I'm found it tons more useful. Thanks for the great info!

Comment by Cindy Driemeyer on 26 Feb 2010

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