From a junction about 45 kilometers north of Punta Arenas , paved Ruta 225 leads east-northeast toward the Argentine border, passing the former Estancia San Gregorio, once one of Chilean Patagonia’s largest landholdings. Part of the Menéndez wool empire, San Gregorio dates from the 1890s, reaching its peak between 1910 and 1930. Besides wool, it produced frozen mutton, hides, and tallow.
Now run as a cooperative, 120 kilometers from Punta Arenas, San Gregorio is a zona típica national historical monument. It exemplified the Anglo-Scottish sheep estancia, in which each unit was a self-sufficient hierarchy with a nearly omnipotent administrator at the top. Geographically, it consisted of discrete residential and production sectors: The former included the administrator’s house, employee residences, shearers’ dormitories, chapel, and the like, while the latter consisted of the shearing shed, warehouses, a smithery, company store, and similarly functional buildings. It had its own railroad and a pier to move the clip directly to freighters.
Most buildings date from the 1890s, but a Menéndez descendent still occupies French architect Antoine Beaulier’s Casa Patronal (1925). The farm featured an extensive system of windbreaks upwards of five meters in height, later planted with Monterey cypress for beautification.
While technically not open to the public, many of San Gregorio’s buildings line both sides of the highway to Monte Aymond. Beached on shore are corroded hulks of the British clipper Ambassador (a national monument) and the company steamer Amadeo, grounded in the 1940s.