2nd Saturday Oral History Convivio ~ Lerma’s: El Corazon del Conjunto

Join the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center and the Corazones de Esperanza  at our monthly oral history gathering known as the “2nd Saturday Convivio." Each month elders and community members share memorable stories and photos of the history of the Westside of San Antonio. Topics range from traditional healing practices to the wide variety of theaters formerly located in the Westside. This month, the group will be discussing the music history and significance of Lerma’s Conjunto Music Venue, now under the guardianship of the Esperanza Center, with barrio historian Susana Segura and accordionist Juan Tejeda.

The Lerma’s building itself was built approximately 1942 and consists of five seperate sections. In 1951, Mr. Pablo H. Lerma took over the lease of the larger section (then El Sombrero-norteño/mexican/conjunto live music venue) and turned it into an exclusively live conjunto music venue and called it Lerma’s Nite Club. Conjunto music is a very unique Texan fusion of the German and Czech accordion sounds and the Mexican ranchera played by migrating farmworkers in the fields of Texas ranchers and farmers. The Texican migrant workers of Mexican descent traveled from crop to crop in communities with strong German and Czech influences entertaining their fellow family and friends. The polka sounds caught their attention and they soon began adopting the use of the accordion with the their own native bajo sexto that evolved in Mexico.

In 2010, the building was cited as a dangerous structure and risked demolition. Shortly after, a group of community members banded together to save the historic building and sought the help of the Esperanza Center, then known for its efforts to save La Gloria. For the past few years, the Esperanza has sought out funding to repair the building in hopes to open it once again as a live music venue, a museum, and non-profit rental spaces.

As part of our oral history gathering efforts, we invite the community to share stories about Lerma’s as well as learn more about the current restoration and fundraising efforts and how people can join in. The event is free to the public with pan dulce and cafecito available for everyone. This is a monthly event and is open to all ages. The Esperanza will also be scanning photos for our En Aquellos Fotohistorias del Westside Archive Collection. We accept photographs that detail life growing up in the Westside between 1890 and 1959.

For more information or for commentary, please contact Itza at (210)228-0201.