Museo del Westside – A Project of the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center

Please support the Esperanza this Giving Tuesday on 11.27.18 to raise $10,000 for our new Museo del Westside!

The Esperanza Peace and Justice Center

Arts and Culture

Our story


  1. Before we embark on rehabilitating our historic property,
 Ruben’s Ice House, to create the first community museum in San Antonio’s
 predominantly Mexican American Westside, we would like to hire a team of
 consultants to assist in educating community members, Esperanza staff, board, 
and volunteers about museum planning and best practices in the rehabilitation
 of a historic building into a functional museum space. The consultants would 
also work with the Esperanza to develop a rehabilitation plan that meets the
community’s desires for the space.
  2. This project will create a community-informed plan to
 rehabilitate a historic structure to give it a new life as a community serving
museum, while also educating the community, staff, and board about the 
challenges of and best practices for rehabilitating a historic structure. The 
project will foster community knowledge about the building and its 
surroundings, build community buy-in for the future of the building, and
 further promote an understanding of and appreciation for community history in
 the Westside.
  3. A series of three to five community meetings will be convened
(this will depend on the community’s expressed needs) to introduce the
community, Esperanza staff, and board to the museum planning process and
receive the community’s input on desired amenities, activities, and programs
that will need to be incorporated into the design. Three consultants will be
engaged: one an expert in rehabilitating historic buildings into museums, one
an architect, and one a structural engineer. The latter two previously assisted
in rehabilitating the other two designated structures on the property and are
familiar with our organization’s commitment to community input. Donations
will help us cover the costs of hiring the consultants – all experts in the ir
respective fields.


it matters:

We anticipate holding the first community input meeting in mid-January with additional community meetings through March.Therefore, we anticipate strong community participation in these meetings with
 anywhere from 30 to 40 core participants. Our target audience is current and
 former Westside residents. San Antonio’s Westside is part of the city’s
 original 36 square miles and is an area notable for its unique working class vernacular architecture, deep ties to San Antonio’s Mexican American history,
 and as the birthplace of numerous Mexican American leaders, politicians, musicians, educators, writers, and artists. It originally began on the westside of downtown at the San Pedro Creek and spread west, but in the 1950s and
 60s urban renewal and the building of Interstate 10 pushed the inhabitants of
 the Westside further west so that it now extends west from Interstate 10. Since
 the city’s earliest days the Westside has been predominately Mexican American,though new immigrant groups have also historically had enclaves in the Westside
 including early 20th century Syrian/Lebanese and Chinese immigrants.The Mexican Revolution (1910-1920) led to a surge of refugees fleeing to San
 Antonio and settling on the Westside. These refugees brought a renewed wave of
 Mexican cultural practices and pride to the Westside. Marked by small
 businesses selling traditional Mexican goods, churches serving a number of
 denominations, and houses often built by the hands of master builders with no
 architectural plans, the Westside retains a unique quality that as we say in
 San Antonio is “puro San Anto.” Westside residents are proud of their
 community, and especially proud of the people that have come from the Westside,
 including: former US Secretary for Housing and Urban Development Henry
 Cisneros, voting rights advocate Willie Velasquez, and international singer Eva
 Garza. The Westside also produced the iconic “Westside Sound” (Rudy & the Reno Bops, The Royal Jesters, etc.), which has been documented a Smithsonian traveling exhibit. While the Westside remains one of the most culturally rich
 communities in San Antonio it is also one of the economically poorest, with
 forty-one percent of residents living in poverty. Though the Westside has been
 studied by historians, cultural geographers, sociologists, and others, outside
 of academia the impact and meaning of the Westside has rarely been told by the
 community or for the community. The Museo del Westside aims to correct this

  1. Outcomes will include strong community buy-in for the museum, increased
 community understanding of the museum’s benefits to the neighborhood, and
 community commitment to the future success of the museum. For the final product
of this planning project, the consultants will work with our staff and board to
 develop a rehabilitation plan that meets the community’s desires for the space 
and that can be used to solicit construction bids. To ensure that we have met
 our goals we will ask the community participants to sign off on the final
  2. We’ve already held multiple community meetings (across multiple
 constituencies in the neighborhood) to introduce the idea of the museum and 
collect future exhibit ideas. We have been met by much enthusiasm from
 community members as it is widely known in the community that the Westside is
one of San Antonio’s most historic neighborhoods and yet it is largely
 overlooked by larger cultural institutions.
  3. By bringing in a panel of expert consultants
 we will give the Westside the professional attention it deserves. We have
 already had great success in promoting the idea of the museum. To date we have held three community meetings next door to Ruben’s Ice House and presented at
four meetings of other Westside organizations and have been met with great.
 We’ve already been contacted by multiple community members who want 
to donate family artifacts to the museum, including a hand-sewn stage dress
worn by the international singer Refugio
”Cuquita” Wilton Luna, La Reina del
 Microfono, and a large neon sign that once graced the 2-story, 15-room
maternity home run by Westside midwife Romana Ramos. We opened our first
 Westside history exhibit on September 22, 2018 at the community room of the
 nearby public housing development and welcomed over 150 community members to the opening reception. We are very confident in the community’s desire for more
such exhibits and a space to call their own that honors the community’s 
history. The Museo del Westside 
project is being overseen by Dr. Sarah Zenaida Gould, a Latina museum
 professional with over 10 years’ experience in the museum field.

Previously, the Esperanza
 Peace & Justice Center has raised over $1.2 million to rehab the historic
 Westside structures known as Casa de Cuentos (now a community gathering space) and Lerma’s Nite Club (a National Register of Historic Places listed building that was the longest-running conjunto club in Texas), as well as to erect acompressed earth (adobe) structure to house a Westside women’s clay artcollective.



  1. The funds will cover consultant fees for a museum building rehabilitation 
expert, and architect, and structural engineer. All have experience working 
with community groups for project input, and community engagement with the process is of utmost importance to us, so we want to be sure to hire the right 
consultants for this project. In total their fees will be $10,000. We are also
 seeking $500 to cover meals and supplies for the community meetings.
  2. If we don’t reach our entire goal, we will reduce reduce the number of
 community meetings to however many we can afford. We are also applying for 
private grants to help with the costs, but do not know yet if we will receive 
any additional support at this time.
  3. When you donate to the Esperanza, you gain ownership and accountability in the organization.
 Not everyone may be able to make a monetary donation, but you can always help many other ways! You can help get the word out about current campaigns/fundraising goals, use social media to help spread the word and ask for donations, or you
 could become an official campaign organizer or volunteer!




Sam Stoeljte

Good luck in this amazing project!


Betty Phillips

Best of luck to you, Gracie. I love this idea and was happy to contribute what little I could.



The Museo del Westside will be a wonderful contribution to the historic westside of San Antonio!!!!



Love Esperanza, the Westside and the new Museo. Adelante Esperanza


susana c/s

I love the Esperanza!


Alpha Martinez-Suarez

¡Buena suerte!


Rene Saenz


Maria Alejandro


Juan Tejeda


Francisco Pizana Jr.



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