Best of 2012: Sarah Gould, Saluté’s “angel”
Azeneth Domínguez with Sarah Gould and the legendary Saluté sign (photo by Jeffrey Wright)
“I have a passion for social justice,” says Sarah Gould, the self-effacing lead curatorial researcher at the Institute of Texan Cultures. This year, she spurred the city into adopting historic landmark guidelines that recognize our poor and working class heritage with one hand, and secured a landmark designation for the property that housed the Saluté International Bar with the other.
Gould, who has a knack for navigating bureaucracy on behalf of the grassroots, made waves during September’s public comment period for new, sweeping guidelines, proposing a number of language changes as well as the inclusion of shotgun houses among eligible architectural styles. In November, on the very same day she received word that the city had accepted a number of her amendments, the Historic and Design Review Commission awarded the designation to Saluté.
“It was like the Lord sent Sarah to us,” former Saluté proprietor Azeneth Domínguez told the Current. “It was [Azeneth's] dream all along, and I’m glad we were able to help,” said Gould, who had the help of like-minded activists like Alice Canestaro-García and Bonnie Cisneros, the latter of which actually began efforts on behalf of Saluté in 2011.
For her next miracle, the scholar-activist plans to lobby for financial support for working-class landowners caught in the paradox of landmark designation, which ultimately enhances property value but can make property improvements more costly in the short run.
“This whole idea is about putting our money where our mouth is,” Gould said. “If we’re going to make a concerted effort to preserve old properties, then we need to think about how [to] make it financially possible for some people who live in those historic properties to keep those historic properties in good, habitable shape.” — Jeffrey Wright