April 14, 2024

Landmark nightclub to undergo $2.2 million restoration

Built in 1948, the unreinforced concrete masonry building has plenty of history. The earliest tenants of the building had included Huey’s Variety Store, the San Antonio Baking Company, and Lakeview Cleaners.

In 1951, El Sombrero Nite Club had became a tenant to make Conjunto history later at 1612 North Zarzamora Street on the west side of San Antonio.

The club was mainly known for booking Conjunto artists from all over.

Later, building owner Pablo Lerma had handed down the deed to his son Hermando Lerma. Hermando had sold the club to Mary and Gilbert Garcia in 1980.

On July 6, 2010, the city of San Antonio’s Dangerous Premises Unit (DPU) had closed the infamous night club due to many code violations that included electrical, mechanical, and plumbing violations. Something needed to be done about it.

Mary and Gilbert Garcia made presentation to DSDB on July 26, 2010 along with twenty-eight supporters. The DSDB had granted a 60-day extension so that community organizers can get together and raise funds for preservation.

Gilbert Garcia had passed away in 2016, but was alive to see the building get classified as a San Antonio Historic Landmark on September 15, 2010 which was approved unanimously by the San Antonio city council on October 21, 2010.

Even as a classification, the building still had some hurdles to climb and was still in danger of being demolished.

The DPU immediately reported their findings to the Dangerous Structure Determination Board (DSDB) which has the power to demolish any private building within 24 hours to 30 days after a vote.

The city of San Antonio showed that they wanted to preserve this building’s history.

The biggest win was listing Lenora’s Nite Club on the National Register of Historic Places on March 21, 2011.

A part of the movie “Selena” was filmed inside the infamous Lerma’s Night Club in the mid-90’s. The venue’s exterior was filmed as well as the interior.

Now, the building needs to be brought back to life after being vacant for quite some time but there was a problem. The owners didn’t have funds make the repairs and the struggle to keep the doors open.

The community banded together to create kick-start in the restoration of the historical landmark that built the Conjunto industry.

The Save Lerma’s Coalition

The Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, the new owner of the Lerma’s building was able to secure  $500,000 in funding from the city of San Antonio and another half a million from Bexar County. With more fundraising efforts continue through Esperanza Center’s website in private donations.

The official ground breaking ceremony will be held on Monday, July 15, 2019 at 10am in front of Lerma’s Nite Club.

Lerma’s Project Coordinator, Susana Segura, will emcee and introduce each speaker. Esperanza Peace and Justice Center Board Member – Dr. Norma Cantu City of San Antonio District 1 Councilman – Roberto Carlos Treviño San Antonio Conservation Society Board President – Patti Zaiontz Honorable Bexar County Judge – Nelson Wolff Bexar County Precinct 2 Commissioner – Justin Rodriguez Preservation Texas Board of Directors President – Ann Benson McGlone City of San Antonio Mayor – Ron Nirenberg City of San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation Deputy Historic Preservation Officer- Kathy Rodriguez Texas Historical Commission National Register Coordinator – Greg Smith Esperanza Peace and Justice Center Director – Graciela I Sanchez Conjunto Musicologist – Juan Tejeda Panfilo’s Guerra Musician and Lead Director – Belen Escobedo

Lerma’s has served San Antonio with live Conjunto music for many generations. The venue in 1950 would regularly book Conjunto bands for almost six decades.

It is now expected that the Lerma’s building will open their doors back up to the public as a cultural arts center and community space within the year after the renovation has been completed.