History Engaged: The Rinconcito de Esperanza (Little Corner of Hope)
We just love UrbanLiving Inside410 and as you know, we periodically take a look at Historic Districts inside Loop410. This week we are taking a look at a fantastic historic area Inside410 of the San Antonio Office Of Historic Preservation we know and love called The Rinconcito de Esperanza.
The Rinconcito de Esperanza Historic District was designated by City Council on August 20, 2020, and was the first local historic district on the Westside.
The Rinconcito de Esperanza (Little Corner of Hope) Historic District consists of 11 structures on three adjacent lots at 812, 816, and 1024 El Paso St in San Antonio’s historic Westside neighborhood. Representative of the once dense massing prevalent on the Westside, the extant lots formerly included 808, 812, 816, 818, 820, 822, and 824 S. Colorado Street. The majority of the structures at the Rinconcito date from the turn of the century to the 1930s, with one concrete block addition dating to the late 1950s and one compressed earth block structure built in 2017 to represent the history of adobe in San Antonio. The property at 812 S Colorado is designated as a local landmark.
The northern most lot consists of seven small residential structures including a shotgun house and the Green House, a folk Victorian residential home dating to approximately 1906, and which has retained its original footprint since construction. At 816 S Colorado sits the Casa de Cuentos, a folk Victorian house that dates to the 1920s. It has served as a home and as a small business, including Torres Grocery (1938–48) and three different dry cleaners (1951-63). In 1994, Emilia Sánchez owned the house and was known for taking care of the poor of the neighborhood. Community members called the house La Casa de Misericordia. The Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, a social justice and arts organization, purchased the house in 2001 and has since operated the Casa de Cuentos as a community gathering space.
Behind Casa de Cuentos is the Casita. At only 200 square feet, this 1920s casita is an example of a typical poor Westside family’s home during that era. The casita remains without a bathroom both to preserve the earlier layout and serve as a reminder of the how many Westside families lived in the past. The former 820 S Colorado St (now combined with 816) is home to the Museo del Westside, but was historically Ruben’s Ice House. This structure began with the southern wooden half of the building, which dates to the 1930s. It was transformed from a home to the M & E Grocery Store (named for Manuel and Elida Reyes) around 1950. About 1959, owner Mr. Reyes added the concrete block addition where he operated Ruben’s Ice House, a longtime community gathering space named after his son that closed in 1987.
The newest structure included in the district is the MujerArtes Adobe Studio. This compressed earth block (adobe) structure, the first to be built in the Westside in a century, was completed in 2017. The building is a long rectangle that sits along the eastern edge of the combined 816 & 820 lots.
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