Barelas is filled with history.
That’s why Homewise worked with the community to keep the B Ruppe Drugstore open for the public.
“The building is a treasure trove of a lifetime of work,” says Johanna Gilligan, Homewise director of development. “I was responsible for the redevelopment of the space.”
On Nov. 5, the B Ruppe MicroMuseum opened to offer a window into the unique place.
The drugstore was the longest continuously operating drugstore in Albuquerque, founded in 1883 by German immigrant Bernard Ruppe.
The drugstore changed locations, eventually settling in the Barelas neighborhood in 1965 when Tom Sanchez took over the business.
In 1981, Sanchez’s sister-in-law, Maclovia Sanchez de Zamora, went to work at the B Ruppe Drugstore and led The B Ruppe’s transformation from a traditional pharmacy into a yerbería, or medicinal herbal shop, and place of natural healing, or curanderísmo.
Sanchez de Zamora devoted the rest of her life to healing people until she died in 2017.
That’s when Homewise, a New Mexico-based homeownership and community development organization, stepped in and purchased the Ruppe building, with guidance from the Barelas Community Coalition.
Gilligan says that inside, the time capsule of the business remained, and Homewise contacted the National Hispanic Cultural Center to help create a B Ruppe Drugstore archive to protect and preserve this part of Albuquerque’s history.
“Connecting with the NHCC, we were able to begin to understand the history and the importance of capturing it forever,” she says. “They helped develop a digital archive and cataloged everything for us.”
Homewise also wanted to further ensure that the cultural legacy of the space was preserved and so, the MicroMuseum was created.
It occupies over 700 square feet in the back of B Ruppe and contains informational displays, a historic timeline of the business, examples of common herbs found in New Mexico, and the legacy of Maclovia Sanchez de Zamora.
“Maclovia’s history is told, and we have relics form the actual store,” Gilligan says. “In New Mexico, there has always been a need for learning how to heal naturally. The information about curanderísmo is fascinating, because generations of New Mexicans have turned to it for healing.”
The MicroMuseum was funded by a grant from the Albuquerque Community Foundation, with assistance and content from the National Hispanic Cultural Center; Dr. Eliseo Torres, University of New Mexico vice president for student affairs and curanderísmo scholar; local artist and writer Rudy J. Miera; and the UNM Center for Southwest Research.
Gilligan says the families of Maclovia Sanchez de Zamora and Bernard Ruppe were also instrumental in bringing the museum to life.
“We’ve been open for a couple weeks, and we’re figuring out if we need to be open more to the public,” she says. “This is piece of history that we didn’t want to go away. The Ruppe building is part of Barelas history, one that is strong and runs deep. The MicroMuseum captures a portion of this story. We’re also hoping to do more community-based classes in the near future and want it to be a space for community.”