San Jose Chapel Where Cesar Chavez Organized Named National Historic Landmark

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — The East San Jose chapel where Cesar Chavez first learned community organizing has been named one of 24 new National Historic Landmarks to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said Wednesday.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission Chapel, also known as McDonnell Hall, is located at 2020 E. San Antonio St. in the Mayfair neighborhood, once called Sal Si Puedes or “get out if you can.”

The chapel serves as the parish hall for Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and is owned by the Diocese of San Jose.

The Community Service Organization, whose work helped to spur Chavez’s emergence as a community organizer and civil and labor rights leader between 1952 and 1962, found its home at McDonnell Hall.

The hall is also associated with Fred Ross Sr., Herman Gallegos and the Rev. Donald McDonnell, an activist priest for whom the hall is named.

“Giving McDonnell Hall this designation is a testimony to the important civil rights work that started here in the 1950s and continues today,” Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors president Dave Cortese said in a statement.

Cortese and Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez commissioned the nomination. The city of San Jose provided a grant to fund architectural analysis as part of the nomination, according to Cortese’s office.

The late Rev. Deacon Salvador E. Alvarez championed the building’s nomination before he died in 2015.

“McDonnell Hall is hallowed in the vein of other great American historical sites,” Alvarez once said.

“Hallowed by the virtue of ordinary individuals who undertook necessary struggle and sacrifice for social justice and civil rights and who did it nonviolently and led by faith,” Alvarez said.

© Copyright 2017 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

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