Lerma’s, which was opened under a different name in 1948, became one of the longest-running live conjunto music venues in the state.
Susana Segura, project coordinator for the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, which now owns the building, said Pablo Lerma loved conjunto music.
“He was a great supporter of the arts and of musicians,” Segura said.
When the club finally changed hands, the new owners struggled to keep it open, Segura said.
“They just weren’t able to get all of the money necessary to make the repairs,” she said.
Community support saved the building from being demolished in 2010.
Segura said that, the following year, Lerma’s historic and cultural significance earned the San Antonio landmark a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
To kick-start its restoration, Segura said the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center was able to get $500,000 in funding from the city of San Antonio and another $500,000 from Bexar County. She said the fundraising continues through the Esperanza Center’s website.
The two surviving Tesoros de San Antonio, Blanquita “Blanca Rosa” Rodriguez and Beatrice “La Paloma del Norte” Llamas, said they remember performing at Lerma’s. Both women will be honored this year by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Rodriguez said that, if you didn’t perform at Lerma’s, “You weren’t known, because that’s how famous this place was.”
Llamas said she and Rodriguez are grateful to the Esperanza Center for what it’s doing to restore Lerma’s Nite Club.
“It’s like an old lady when they renew the whole body!” Llamas exclaimed.
Rodriguez said that, once the restoration is complete, Lerma’s will become a memorial to its performers who have passed on. She said their children who went on to become musicians and singers “are going to come and perform here now.”
It’s expected the restoration will be done within the year.