By: Susana Segura
Last Monday, the Esperanza Peace and Justice center celebrated the official ground- breaking ceremony for the Lerma’s building.
Lerma’s was the longest- running live conjunto music venue and is a registered local and national landmark. Musi- cians such as Perla Tapatia, Pavo, Boom Boom, Nick Vil- larreal, Rita Vidaurri and the previous owner of Lerma’s, Gilbert Garcia, as well as other conjunto musicians who once performed at Lerma’s, have passed away.
The Esperanza Peace and Justice Center is the cur- rent owner and caretaker of Lerma’s and plans to offer future cultural programming around the jazz scene that thrived in the neighborhood, the Chicano jazz and Chicano blues fusion, along with the American folk music sounds of Conjunto music. This ceremony was held in front of the Lerma’s building at 1602 N. Zarzamora St., San Antonio, TX.
District 1 City of San Antonio Councilman Roberto Carlos Treviño was joined by President of the Preservation Texas Board of Directors Ann Benson McGlone, Precinct 2 Bexar County Commissioner, Justin Rodriguez , City of San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation Deputy Director, Kathy Rodriguez and Mayor Ron Nirenberg to speak on the project.
Esperanza Peace and Justice Center Director – Graciela I. Sánchez said, ““We must resist gentrification and cre- ate the world that we want to see by preserving our Cultura and Heritage. It’s been a long hard road and it’s not over, but with the community’s support Lerma’s will LIVE again!”
The organization is now seeking support from our community to further inform the future programming and energize the project finacially. Community members can do- nate or volunteer by visiting esperanzacenter.org
The Lerma’s building will be used as cultural arts center and community space. Near the Basilica of the Little Flow- er, and close to the corner of Zarzamora and Culebra, this building is located in one of the poorest areas of San Antonio and will have a significant impact on the community once open. Lerma’s will have far-reaching and long-term positive effects on this community and future generations to come. The Esperanza is a 32-year old nonprofit expand- ing our cultural and social justice community programming into West End, one of the oldest neighborhoods in San Antonio.
This neighborhood is one of the few places in San Antonio where the African- American and Mexican-American community have lived and coexisted together.
The San Antonio City Council has donated $500,000 to the project along with the Bexar County Commissioners donation of an additional $500,000 to publically and financially support the Espe- ranza’s efforts to rehabilitate a unique and authentic part of San Antonio’s cultural and historic fabric. This move to invest in our historic and rich cultural heritage is the first time since the Guadalupe Cultural Arts, back in the early 80’s, that the City of San An- tonio and Bexar County have invested in a Capital Project of a Latino Arts Organization.
Timeline and Review:
• August 2010 Community shows up en masse to oppose demolition and support preservation of Lerma’s
• September 2, 2010 National Trust for Historic Preservation Intervention Grant awarded
• September 15, 2010 San An- tonio City Council Approves Landmark Designation
• December 2010 Grant awarded by San Antonio Conservation Society
• January 2011 Texas Historical Commission determines that Lerma’s Building is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
• March 2011 National Register of Historic Places designates Lerma’s building to be listed for Bexar County
• January 2012 Esperanza Peace and Justice Centers purchases Lerma’s from Mary and Gilbert Garcia
• May 2014 Lerma’s is identified by Preservation Texas as one of Texas Most Endangered Places and worthy of preservation funds
• September 2015 San Antonio City Council Approves$500,000 for Stabilization of Lerma’s Building, spearheaded by Councilman Robert Treviño and unanimously supported by City Council
• October 2016 Esperanza seeksand hires Architect Alex Gonzales and design team to create Architectural plans and construction documents
• Early September 2017 Las Tiendas de Lerma’s Construction Documents are Approved by the City of San Antonio
• September 2017 : Bexar County Commissioners Court approves the inclusion of matching funds of $500,000 towards Lerma’s stabilization, spearheaded by County Commissioner Paul Elizondo and unanimously sup- ported by Bexar County Com- missioners for the 2017-2018 Annual Budget
• December 2018 Texas Com- mission for Environmental Qual- ity and Environmental Protection Agency gives the all-clear after six long years
• February 2019 New Bexar County Commissioner Justin Rodriguez finalizes the Lerma’s Funding Agreement at Bexar County Commissioners Court
• March 1, 2019 Public Bid Re- quest for General Contractors to restore Lerma’s is publicly advertised
• May 1, 2019 Sealed Bid Openings at the Esperanza Center (International Workers Day) July 1, 2019 Selection of Davila Construction for the restoration of Lerma’s July 15, 2019, Official ground-