Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

B Ruppe MicroMuseum dedicated to the history of the Barelas drug store location

The B Ruppe micro-museum in the Barelas neighborhood opens to provide a glimpse into the unique place that the drugstore B Ruppe occupied in Albuquerque. (Roberto E. Rosales / Journal)

Barelas is full of history.

For this reason, Homewise worked with the community to open the B Ruppe Drugstore to the public.

“The building is a treasure trove for lifelong work,” says Johanna Gilligan, Development Manager at Homewise. “I was responsible for redesigning the room.”

The B Ruppe micro-museum opened on November 5th to offer an insight into the unique location.

The drugstore was the longest uninterrupted drugstore in Albuquerque, founded in 1883 by German immigrant Bernard Ruppe.

B Ruppe Drugs had over 50 years of history in Barelas before it was bought by Homewise in 2017. Today it is the B Ruppe MicroMuseum. (Roberto E. Rosales / Journal)

The drugstore relocated and settled in the Barelas neighborhood in 1965 when Tom Sanchez took over the business.

In 1981, Sanchez’s sister-in-law, Maclovia Sanchez de Zamora, worked at the drugstore B Ruppe and directed the transformation of The B Ruppe from a traditional pharmacy into a yerbería or medicinal herb shop and a place of natural healing or curanderísmo.

Sanchez de Zamora devoted the rest of her life to healing people until she died in 2017.

At that point, Homewise, a New Mexico-based home ownership and community development organization, stepped in and bought the Ruppe building under the guidance of the Barelas Community Coalition.

Gilligan says the store’s time capsule remained inside, and Homewise contacted the National Hispanic Cultural Center to help build a group of drugstore archives to protect and preserve this part of Albuquerque’s history.

“By connecting with the NHCC, we were able to understand the history and importance of permanent coverage,” she says. “They helped set up a digital archive and cataloged everything for us.”

The B Ruppe micro-museum has objects that Maclovia Sanchez de Zamora used for her healing. (Roberto E. Rosales / Journal)

Homewise wanted to continue to ensure that the area’s cultural heritage was preserved, so the MicroMuseum was created.

Spanning 700 square feet in the back of B Ruppe, it contains informational exhibits, a historical timeline of the business, examples of common herbs found in New Mexico, and the legacy of Maclovia Sanchez de Zamora.

“The story of Maclovia is being told, and we have relics from the actual store,” says Gilligan. “There has always been a need to learn how to heal naturally in New Mexico. The information about curanderísmo is fascinating, as generations of New Mexicans have turned to it for healing. “

The MicroMuseum was funded by a grant from the Albuquerque Community Foundation with support and content from the National Hispanic Cultural Center; Dr. Eliseo Torres, vice president of student affairs for the University of New Mexico and a Curanderismo Fellow; 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 of weeks and we’re considering whether we need to be more open to the public,” she says. “This is a piece of history that we don’t want to go away. The Ruppe building is part of the Barelas story, which is strong and deep. The MicroMuseum captures part of this story. We also hope to be able to offer more community-based courses in the near future and want it to be a space for the community. “

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