The House of the First Print Shop in the Americas at the corner of Moneda and Licenciado Primo Verdad streets was the home of the first printing press/print shop in the New World. Originally constructed by Gerónimo de Aguilar in 1524, it is located on the outer edge of what was the sacred precinct of the Templo Mayor prior to the Conquest.
Both the history of the building and the history of printing in Mexico date back to the first half of the 16th century. Through the years, the site had many owners until it was purchased by the university in the late 1980s.
After receiving permission from Spanish king Carlos V, Mexico City archbishop, Juan de Zumarraga had a printing press brought from Europe in 1539. The press was set up in this house, then called the “Casa de las Campanas” (House of the Bells), by the Seville-based publisher Juan Cromberger with Italian printer Juan Pablos who worked for living expenses for ten years. They began printing viceregal and Church-related documents. After its stint as a print shop, the house changed hands numerous times and was used for a number of purposes.
In the 17th century, it belonged to the Monastery of Santa Teresa de la Orden de las Carmelas Reformadas and later, in the 18th century it belonged to the Royal Military Order of Nuestra Señora de la Merced Redención de Cautivos de la Ciudad de México.
In the 20th century, the building was mostly used for offices, including being the home to a paper and printing services operation called the “Imprenta y Papelería Militar”. The house continued to change hands until 1989, when the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana bought the house with the intention of restoring it.
About 82 cm below the surface of the ground floor the stone head of a serpent from Aztec times was discovered. It is possible that this head was visible to the occupants of the building in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Today, the house serves as the Continuing Education Centre for the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, with various exhibition rooms, a bookstore and facilities for conferences and courses. In 2008, a museum dedicated to books was established here, with some of the oldest books in Mexico on display.