El Paso leaders are celebrating the announcement that the Segundo Barrio soon will be listed under the National Register of Historic Places.
During a news conference Monday in the courtyard of Sacred Heart Church, El Paso County Commissioner David Stout, who represents the Segundo Barrio in his district, said the designation will help preserve the area’s history.
“This is going to put El Paso on the map when it comes to historic heritage tourism,” Stout said. “This is a huge historic district and it will help us continue to tell the story of all of those who have come across here.”
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Having a national historic designation will help provide property owners with state and federal tax credits to incentivize owners to preserve and rehabilitate their properties. In the Segundo Barrio, 685 buildings were deemed to have historic value.
Stout was joined by the Rev. Rafael Garcia, the pastor of Sacred Heart Church; Max Grossman, a historic preservationist and associate professor of art history at the University of Texas at El Paso; as well as other community members, advocates and professionals.
Among the most iconic buildings in the area is Sacred Heart Church. Grossman said that building will be the first building to be restored in the Segundo Barrio.
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“(It’s) very significant,” Grossman said. “We’re hoping that this project will show the way for property owners, for other stakeholders, in the neighborhood to use these tax credits which are now available to engage in these restoration and rehabilitation projects.”
Grossman said federal funds won’t be available for the church’s restoration, and state tax credits will only cover up to 25% of restoration costs.
“One quarter of that is going to be over a million dollars,” Grossman said. “We might not even have started this project if it weren’t for the creation of this district.”
The church received a $250,000 grant for restoration from the National Fund for Sacred Places on Oct. 21.
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Funding is going to renovations for the Sacred Heart School and Jesuit Residence buildings. It’s estimated that renovations could cost more than $7 million. So far, nearly $400,000 has been raised and more than 170 individuals have donated.
The designation will be published Nov. 15 on the National Park Service’s Historic Register website. In 2016, the neighborhood was listed among the most endangered historic sites in the U.S. by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
“So, as pastor of the church, I’m very happy that this barrio has been declared a historic place to value the lives of the people who have lived here, that have helped build the city and that are part of our church community,” Garcia said.
Anthony Jackson may be reached at ADJackson@elpasotimes.com and @TonyAnjackson on Twitter.