I am extremely pleased to report that less than 20 minutes ago the State Board of Review of the Texas Historical Commission voted unanimously to support the establishment of the Segundo Barrio National Register Historic District!
Board member Sehila Mota Casper made the motion, which was seconded by Steve Kline and also supported by Timothy Brown.
El Paso County Commissioner David Stout of Precinct 2, historian Cynthia Renteria, Fr. Raphael Garcia of Sacred Heart Church, Sito Negron and I spoke in support.
There were no opponents, unlike before the vote to establish the Downtown El Paso National Register Historic District this past January 16.
The City of El Paso rejected this project on a 6-2 vote in July 2015, but the County took it up on a 5-0 vote on February 8, 2016 and it has received unanimous County support ever since.
The nomination will soon be forwarded to the National Park Service in Washington D.C. for final approval. If all goes well, the district will be created before the end of this year.
Established in 1885, the Segundo Barrio has always been one of the great immigrant neighborhoods in the Unites States. While it is predominantly Mexican-American, it has also been home to other immigrant communities, including African-Americans, Chinese, Jews, and Lebanese. For these reasons, the neighborhood is often referred to as the “Ellis Island of the Southwest.”
Currently there is only one building in the entire barrio on the National Register of Historic Places, but soon there will be 686 buildings listed individually or as contributing properties on the NRHP. More than 70% of the buildings, an extraordinary proportion, meet the criteria for inclusion within the new district.
Hundreds of buildings within the district will soon become eligible for state and federal tax credits for restoration and rehabilitation, and this promises to improve the appearance and quality of life of the neighborhood very significantly.
I am co-chairing the effort, together with Fr. Raphael Garcia, to restore sacred heart church, which will be the first restoration project within the Segundo Barrio to benefit from the tax credits.
On behalf of my three non-profit boards, I could not be more pleased with today’s vote. It is a victory for all El Pasoans!
Enjoy your weekend!