Feb 6, 2023 - News

Historic east side San Antonio home moves closer to new life

Exterior of Alma Chavarria's Cactus Street home.

Alma and Eugenio Chavarria's home (forefront) and the former grocery store, which they hope to convert into a performing arts studio. Photo: Courtesy of Alma Chavarria

East Side homeowners Alma and Eugenio Chavarria are a step closer to transforming their historic property into something they can share with the community.

Driving the news: City Council has unanimously approved the rezoning of 230 Cactus St. — which consists of 106- and 113-year-old structures — to become an East Side performing arts center.

Context: As the East Side experiences rapid gentrification and loses its original housing stock, the home stands as part of the city's social and historical heritage.

  • The homeowners say they've heard stories about Martin Luther King Jr. visiting the house during the civil rights movement.
  • "What an honor to preserve American and Black history right here in the Alamo City," Alma Chavarria told Axios.

Flashback: Alma says neighbor George Frederick, a community outreach leader, remembers the home being at the epicenter of local civil rights activism with visits from King and his local associate, the Rev. Claude Black, in the 1950s and 1960s.

  • The city's Office of Historic Preservation in 2018 recommended that City Council designate the house as a historical landmark, for the oral histories of King's visits, as well as its previous incarnation as Abernathy grocery store from 1922 to 1967, and as a polling location and as an important community space.

What they're saying: "Thank you so much for honoring Dr. King's legacy by opening a performing arts studio for east side youth. I'm proud to support this item and I'm proud of the efforts of Alma for the creation of this wonderful center," Councilmember Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, whose district includes the property, said during Thursday's meeting.

What's next: The Chavarrias will launch a GoFundMe campaign to generate support for the renovation.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios San Antonio.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More San Antonio stories

No stories could be found

San Antoniopostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios San Antonio.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more