It's Official! Rio Vista Farm is a National Historic Landmark!

December 19, 2023 by Amy Webb

Elevation view of one of the historic adobe buildings used during the 1935 Transient Labor Camp era.

photo by: Robert R. Arzola, Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) Architect

On December 13th, 2023, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland officially designated the Rio Vista Bracero Reception Center in Socorro, Texas, as a National Historic Landmark. This designation comes after a multi-year effort to seek designation as well as support preservation and promotion efforts at the site. The Rio Vista Farm first came to the National Trust’s attention when it was identified during a 2015 National Trust internship to identify nationally significant Latine historic sites. The Rio Vista Farm complex is significant for its association with the Bracero Program that brought skilled Mexican workers to the United States during and after World War II.

The National Trust’s years-long involvement with Rio Vista Farm has included assistance to document, designate, preserve and promote this important place. The National Trust helped secure funding for architectural studies and critical stabilization work for five key buildings as well as providing ongoing preservation advice and assistance. The National Trust’s assistance positioned the City of Socorro to receive a $750,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation for the creation of a Bracero Museum at the site.

The National Trust also helped to draw attention to the long-overlooked history of braceros, sponsoring a Bracero Summit in El Paso in 2017 that attracted more than 300 participants and resulted in the creation of theVoices from the Border: The Bracero Legacy video about bracero history through UTEP’s Institute of Oral History. The National Trust also created a Rio Vista Farm Guidebook in 2020 to help visitors understand the significance and use of buildings in the complex.

Securing National Historic Landmark designation for the Rio Vista Farm has been a long process with the National Trust involved at every stage of the game. The National Trust helped to secure funding to hire expert consultants to prepare the nomination, and assisted the City of Socorro in the consultant selection and oversight process. While many National Trust staff were engaged in this effort, a huge thank you goes to Sehila Mota Casper, the National Trust’s intern in 2015 and staff member from 2016 to 2021. Sehila, who currently serves as the first executive director of Latinos in Heritage Conservation noted, “Being part of the National Trust team that led the efforts to designate Rio Vista Farm as a National Historic Landmark has been a long and profound journey. Collaborating with our exceptional and expert team, we worked tirelessly to preserve Rio Vista and promote the rich history of the Bracero Program. This designation is not just a recognition of the past, but a commitment to ensuring that the stories and contributions of the braceros are honored and remembered for generations to come. It's a privilege to have played a role in this important chapter of American history.”

Congratulations to everyone who helped to make this important National Historic Landmark designation possible.

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