Healing Power: Barelas Pharmacy Born Again

By Maggie Shepard
Albuquerque Journal, N.M.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The historic B. Ruppe Drugs pharmacy in Barelas may continue to be a community and cultural anchor in Barelas despite the passing of its longtime owner.

Albuquerque Journal, N.M.

Plastic shoe boxes and bags filled with mint, chamomile and many other plants still line the old wooden shelves at the historic B. Ruppe Drugs pharmacy building in Barelas.

Books and notes scribbled by pharmacy co-owner and community icon Maclovia Sanchez de Zamora still stock the back medicine racks.

Some of what remains of her and her husband’s collection of Catholic devotional statues, art and rosaries still bring color and reverence to the store space, which has been out of full service for years as Zamora phased out her herbal healing practice in her older age.

After helping keep alive one of the state’s longest continuously running pharmacies and serving as a community and cultural anchor, Zamora passed away at age 86 in December.

Now the building that hosted her life‘s work and that is marked with a large mural of her is part of the revitalization effort for the neighborhood.

It has been purchased by a local nonprofit agency and is set to become, possibly, a cafe/store/community gathering and education center where Zamora’s legacy of herbalism and traditional healing can continue.

“We are going to refresh the property but keep what was historically here. So neighbors are coming and giving their input about that they want,” said Lucas Pedraza, program manager for the Barelas Mainstreet project with the Barelas Community Coalition. “The whole concept is: How do we bring the creative economy to Barelas?”

Barelas, from the railroad to the river and from about Coal to Bridge SW, is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city with Spanish records dating to the 1600s. It once hosted a thriving railroad community, the buildings for which are coming back to life with the last years’ Rail Yards Markets’ success.

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