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by Marjorie G. Driver & Francis X. Hezel, S.J.
There was probably no more visible symbol of the Marianas than the Palacio, the residence
and office of the governor and the seat of his authority. The residence, like the
colony itself, had beginnings in the barracks of the military compound before it took
on distinctive features and eventually achieved prominence in the capital of Agaña.
The Jesuit mission established a foothold near the beach on an island-like area formed
by two outflows of the Agaña River. Gradually, the Spanish compound moved inland until
it reached the hillside, though not before a second Spanish settlement at Umatac gained
prominence as the principal port in the Mariana Islands. For a considerable time two
Palacios, or residences for the governor, existed on the island of Guam.
The story of the Agaña Palacio is more than the history of a public building, insofar
as this can be reconstructed from the sources. To some extent the vicissitudes of
the Palacio reflect the shift in Spanish policy in the colony, and the events that
helped shape this policy over the more than two centuries of colonial rule in the
Marjorie G. Driver was an Associate Professor of Spanish and the Curator of the Spanish
Documents Collection at the Micronesian Area Research Center, of which she is a founding
member. With roots in the Eastern United States, she spent her childhood in Puerto
Rico, is a graduate of Russell Sage and Middlebury Colleges and a long time resident
of Guam. She taught in Guam’s high schools, was the principal at St. John’s School,
and was a faculty member of the University of Guam. She has published numerous articles
and English translations of historical materials concerning the lengthy Spanish presence
in the Mariana Islands. Distributed by the Richard F. Taitano Micronesia Area Research
Center/ MARC Educational Series No. 26
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