BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — In east Bakersfield, a place historically known to home minorities, one building has the hearts and memories of generations of Mexicans.

The parties, the music, the good times, Salon Juarez is known for all of these. But there’s more beyond the event hall.

“In the 1890s there was interest to actually have an organization that represented the Mexican community, and it was formally adopted and chartered in 1910, the same year of the Mexican revolution,” said Octavio Barajas, President of Sociedad Juarez Mexican Mutualist.

This is how the Mutualista Mexicana, meaning the Mutual Aid Society was created by the Mexican community living in east Bakersfield since the late 1800s.

“We’re one of the oldest continuously operating community organizations in Bakersfield,” said Octavio Barajas, “So, that doesn’t need to be prefaced by saying it’s the oldest Mexican, no, it’s one of the oldest periods.”

One key reason the organization has run for this long is Mexicans’ love for our country.

“The story of migration is one that is a part of the human experience since forever. A space like La Juarez, it becomes also a place where people are allowed to feel a sense of community. And that sense of community, that togetherness, becomes home. So home is not just the facility, the structure itself, but people coming together in familiar ways. Whether it’s hearing el acordeon [accordion], hearing conjunto music, hearing and interacting with people en su idioma (in their language),” said Barajas.

A place where visitors go back in time.

“Many people have memories about being in this place, they remember being here as kids, running up and down the hall, right? And then they come back and they kind of relive those memories, and it’s something that is built into this space, it’s a lived memory here, that many could remember their loved ones, they’re no longer with us, but they got those memories they got married here,” said Barajas.

Created by the people and for the people, Sociedad Juarez focuses on bringing free events and resources to Salon Juarez.

Sociedad Juarez is preparing to celebrate its 113th anniversary on Dec. 25, 2023.