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History of our Neighborhood: The Barrio

La Suprema has a rich history. Our building once served as a Chinese market then turned into a tortilla factory, which is where the name La Suprema came from. Sitting on the corner of Simpson St and Main Ave we are fortunate enough to be located in the Barrio Viejo of Tucson. Barrio Viejo means “old neighborhood” in Spanish and the history of this neighborhood backs up the name.

Dating back to 1850, the Barrio served as a home to many prominent early Tucson families. If you were to time travel back to the late 1800s you would see how large this neighborhood was. There are stories of colorful street life and prior to the 1880s it was known as a “Free Zone” meaning it was free of legal restraints and often police presence. As time progressed so did the city and several blocks of the original neighborhood were bulldozed and replaced with the Tucson Convention Center and the offices downtown. What is left today is a glimpse of Tucson’s 19th century commercial and residential structures. The Barrio is the largest collection of 19th century Adobe buildings in the United States.

Notable Landmarks:

Teatro Carmen on South Meyer

  • Founded by Carmen Soto Vasquez in 1915 Teatro Carmen opened to the public and operated as a venue to showcase theatrical performances from Spain and Latin America

  • Sold in 1926 and since then it has been many things including an auto garage, space for Borderlands Theater, Elks Lodge, and storage warehouse

  • Stratford Art Words recently purchased this 106-year-old property with plans to resurrect it as a community arts and cultural space

El Tiradito (the Wishing Shrine) on South Main

  • may be the America's only Catholic shrine dedicated to the memory of a sinner (instead of a saint)

  • The legend says that back in the early years of the Barrio Viejo a ranch hand named Juan Oliveras cheated on his wife with her mother. This story ends with Oliveras getting caught by his father-in-law and axed to death. Saddened by his death, Oliveras’s lover and mother-in-law buried him where he died and a while later a shrine rose in his honor.

  • The shrine has been at 418 S Main Ave Tucson, AZ for over 100 years and visitors leave candles, offerings, photos, and wishes with hopes of them coming true. Legend has it that that if your candle burns throughout the night then your wish will come true.

The Childhood home of Eduardo "Lalo" Guerrero "The Father of Chicano Music"

The newly restored home of the infamous Lalo Guerrero is here in El Barrio Viejo. If you don’t know about Lalo Guerrero, he was a Mexican American born, in Tucson, AZ and pursued his dream of becoming a guitarist and singer. He is known as “The Father of Chicano Music” for being one of the original Chicanos to sing of the struggles and history of Mexican Americans. The historical artist unfortunately died in 2005 but his music will live on. Even in his last albums “Barrio Viejo” was the title of one of his songs, where he sings about his love for his hometown neighborhood.

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