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El Paso

State panel approves designation of Segundo Barrio as historic district

AUSTIN, Texas - A state historical review panel voted unanimously Saturday to support the designation of south El Paso's Segundo Barrio as a historic district.

With the vote by the Texas Historical Commission's State Review Board, the proposal for the historic district can advance to the National Park Service for potential inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. 

This would make state and federal tax credits available for renovation or restoration of nearly 700 properties in the area. The barrio is currently on the Preservation Texas list of "Most Endangered" places, and in 2016 it was named to the "Most Endangered" list by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a national non-profit that advocates for historic preservation.

The Segundo Barrio was one of the main entry points for Mexican immigrants into the U.S, according to historians. It became known as the "Ellis Island of the Southwest."

"In El Paso, in our barrio, we have living and breathing tenements, still filled with immigrants and the children and grandchildren of immigrants. These tenements are functioning, many of these buildings going back well over 100 years still serve their original purpose. This is a unique neighborhood, probably in the entire United States," said Max Grossman, an El Paso architectural historian who supports the plan.

According to the application, the Segundo Barrio Historic District lies along the international boundary between and the United States and Mexico. This dense mixed-use district has provided housing, neighborhood-scale commerce, and community service amenities for a predominantly working-class Mexican American population since 1884.

El Paso County Commissioner David Stout told members of the board "Segundo Barrio's significance arises from this position at the intersection of Mexico and the United States, embodied by the district's ethnic history, social history and architecture. And while this history is primarily that of Mexicans or Mexican Americans, it is important to note that the immigrant experience in El Paso is global."

The district includes the iconic Sacred Heart church, a 1923 Gothic Revival structure at the center of a restoration effort. It could be the first building to take advantage of the tax credits if the district is included in the National Register of Historic Places, said Grossman.

Local News / News / Top Stories

Brenda De Anda-Swann

Brenda De Anda-Swann is news director at ABC-7.



  1. This rat and cockroach infested area should have been razed years ago. Now the continuation of low rent, low education, high crime, drug entry into the US will continue and the people will still be suppressed. Too bad for the people that actually live there. Very little good has ever come out of there.

    1. The crime is very low in SB Dave. I’m out and about a lot and now know many of my SB neighbors. They don’t tolerate crime or even vagrancy. Chihuahuaita on the other hand is a shit-hole. The renovation of the border hwy there is already lined with encampments/tents and the authorities do nothing to move them along or remove them. Mental illness all over there sidewalks and common areas. There are enough shelters in EP that volunteers donate and work hard to maintain. They can be told to go there or move along. NONE of that crap goes on in Segundo and if it did it would not be tolerated.

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