Hispanic Heritage

Sandtown was a Hispanic community in South Waco dating back to the early 1900s. The community was mostly inside the west bank of the Brazos River up through Mary Avenue and Jackson Avenue to South Second Street and across Jones Avenue (a few blocks from Interstate Highway 35). Sandtown’s population was mostly Mexican-American immigrants. Businesses in the area included grocery stores, auto garages, a cemetery, barbershop, taverns, an Assembly of God mission and a night club called “The Blue Moon,” which was also known as a gambling hall.

Sandtown existed through the mid 1970s when it was wiped out by the federal Urban Renewal Project that began around 1958 and terminated in the mid 1970s. Families with names of Gonzales, Martinez, Bravo, Gamboa, Serrano and Perez to mention a few came together in 2004 to explore the history of Sandtown through an effort by the Waco History Project. Please visit their website at http://wacohistoryproject.org for more information on Sandtown’s history.

The Heart of Texas area celebrates its Hispanic heritage in many ways, from lavish Cinco de Mayo festivals, folkloric dance troupes, and Tejaño musical ensembles, to its beautiful churches such as St. Francis on the Brazos, a replica of a Spanish mission church. In 1924, Franciscan missionaries came to Texas from Mallorca, Spain and established a mission in Waco. By 1931, St. Francis Church on the Brazos was built. In later years the walls were decorated with paintings representing the Stations of the Cross and the glorification of St. Francis. The church is a replica of the historically important San Jose Mission in San Antonio.

For more information, please visit the Cen Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Local organizers are starting a museum to highlight Hispanic contributions to Waco history, called the Waco Hispanic Museum. It will be located in a space in the rear of the South Waco Community Center, 2815 Speight Ave., and will be enclosed and secured. It is the brainchild of Alice Rodriguez, a Waco City Councilwoman, who believes a formal look at Hispanic history in Waco will help young Hispanics identify more with their community. For more information about the museum, please visit www.facebook.com/pages/Waco-Hispanic-Museum/1468602520074656?fref=ts