Rinconcito de Esperanza
816 S. Colorado St.
San Antonio, TX 78207
The Rinconcito de Esperanza is the hub of Esperanza’s Westside cultural programming, including our En Aquellos Tiempos oral history gatherings and Fotohistorias del Westside street museum composed of historic photographs donated to the Esperanza by the Westside community.
The growth of the Rinconcito de Esperanza began when the Esperanza purchased the Casa de Cuentos in 2002, and later the adjacent Ruben’s Ice House in 2007. In 2009, we received a CDBG grant to renovate the Casa de Cuentos and the small Casita in the back, expanding the meeting space in the Casa, and adding on a wrap-around porch to provide shade and seating for outdoor events. The multidisciplinary cultural center, consisting of three historic buildings, was carefully adapted to new uses using green building practices. The rehabilitation began in 2012 with more than 50 percent recycled wood from structures in the nearby neighborhood, including reclaimed oak planks recycled from St. Mary’s University’s baseball park bleachers. These restorations and renovations earned Esperanza a City of San Antonio Green Building Award in 2013 and a 2014 Historic Preservation Award from the San Antonio Conservation Society.
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The Casa de Cuentos is a 1,320 sq. ft, 100-year-old house known as “La Casa de Misericordia” (the house of mercy) where, during the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, Westside resident Emilia Sánchez opened her home to those in need of food and shelter. It has housed bookmaking workshops, musical performances, teatro de la calle, oral history gatherings with Westside elders and youth, outdoor film screenings, poetry readings, dances, Día de los Muertos altar exhibits and festivals, our annual Paseo por El Westside, and more. The Casa de Cuentos has also been used to host visiting artists and cultural workers from Mexico, Peru, Chile & throughout the U.S.
A 200 sq. ft. house built in the 1920s, the Casita is an excellent example of a typical poor family’s Westside home during that era. The Casita is used for programming as well as guest quarters. Modifications included structural stabilization and repairs to the existing walls and roof, installation of a “green” air conditioning system, electrical work, installation of a new sink, and ADA modifications. An outdoor cooking area and walkway will also be added between the Casa de Cuentos and the rear Casita.
At 1300 sq. ft. Ruben’s was a popular neighborhood gathering place. We are currently working on opening the Museo del Westside, a community participatory museum where neighborhood residents and visitors can look through photo archives gathered for the En Aquellos Tiempos Westside Fotobanner Project. Further modifications to Ruben’s will include installation of a “green” air conditioning system, new fixtures and sinks in existing bathrooms, new windows, doors and exterior finish, electrical improvements, and more. The green space between the Casa de Cuentos and Ruben’s Ice House will contain raised-beds for gardening and an underground cistern for rainwater collection.