Little Red Schoolhouse

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Description

The Little Red Schoolhouse in Wickenburg, was donated by Don Ignacio Garcia in 1905. Originally called the Garcia Little Red Schoolhouse, it was used for a while by the Wickenburg Community Bank. In October 2004, it was turned over to the Wickenburg Chamber Orchestra and now provides musical programs and instruments to children around the area.

Transcript

Narrator:
At the dawn of the 20th century, the booming mining town of Wickenburg faced a problem. It already had nearly 600 residents -- it was growing fast -- and yet it had no place for its children to go to school. That was until Ignacio Garcia, a pioneer landowner, deeded land to Wickenburg as the site for its first schoolhouse. A makeshift wooden schoolhouse was brought in.

Penny Pietre:
The school was in somebody's house up until then. They decided they needed a larger one, so for $50, I think, they bought and set up schoolhouse here. It was drafty and full of rodents, and it wasn't very comfortable so -- but it lasted ten years.

Narrator:
In 1905, the school board passed bonds to fund a new school. Soon after, this red-brick schoolhouse was built. That was a long time ago, but in Wickenburg things seem to put down roots, and so do people.

Dana Burden:
After here you go on to high school, then on to college and on to life.

And then you come back. And here I am... sitting where I started.

Narrator:
Many of the one-time students of this school still call Wickenburg home. The schoolhouse brings back rich memories of their days in pigtails and dungarees.

Alice Quesada:
If you were good, you got to clean the blackboard. And if you were good, you got to feed the -- we had a big pot stove. That was our heating, and you had to feed it coal or wood. So whenever that stove needed to be fed, well, if you were one of the good students, you got that privilege.

Royce Kardinal:
I remember they used to ring the bell when it was time to come in from the playground. In the afternoons -- you went to school all day in first grade -- and I remember we were tired and we had to bring towels to take our -- we actually had a nap period, and you had to lay out on this floor and take your little nap.

Narrator:
Eugene Quesada was a first-grader there in 1933.

Eugene Quesada:
Well, for instance, one time I was asked to go up to the chalk board and write out the alphabet, and at a certain point she asked me to write it backwards. So I wrote it backwards. You know, sure enough. I don't remember how she knew I could do it, but she knew I could do it.

Narrator:
The schoolhouse was later divided into two rooms. Many memories of schoolteachers remain.

Leonard Hershkowitz:
Not the fondest, but the best memory is being sent out to the front stoop for causing a disturbance... about every day. Talking. Pinching the girls. Slapping somebody. And I know they were glad to get rid of me. Mrs. Reyes was. She was awful glad to get rid of me out of that class.

Jorja Beal:
My first-grade teacher was an old maid, Miss Ann Marie Reyes, and the day that we graduated from first grade she had us all file in single file down the stairs out that door right there, and we had to all kiss her on the cheek.

Eugene Quesada:
Miss Anderson was my first grade teacher and the most beautiful woman who ever lived. And at the end of the year, she ran off and got married. That was it.

Narrator:
As Wickenburg continued to grow, a new schoolhouse was built next door.

The little red schoolhouse was eventually relegated to duty as a storeroom, its locked doors intriguing to idle students.

Dana Burden:
Well, it was kind of a mystery place for us that we all wished we could get into. So during recess time, one of our sports was myself and a couple of friends, we would get sticks and start to dig between the rocks that are holding this thing up, trying to dig our way into the basement of this thing because we knew it was full of wonderful treasures.

Narrator:
The little red schoolhouse outlived its replacement. In 1978, the new school building was destroyed by fire. Amid rumors of its impending demolition, the building was purchased, restored, and served as a bank until 2003. Today it's the home of the

Wickenburg Cultural Organization. The Wickenburg Cultural Organization, or W.C.O., provides music programs for children living in rural Arizona. The little red schoolhouse is once again a place of learning.

Penny Pietre:
This building was built for the town and the children of this town.

And I feel that it's come back to the town, that it belongs to the town again.