Restoration of the old one-room schoolhouse where Corrales kids were taught from the 1870s until 1925 is to be complete before next summer. John Perea acquired the building after the 2008 death of his uncle, Bobby Perea, who lived there. For years the earthen structure at the corner of Corrales Road and Rincon Road was all but swallowed up by dense Tree of Heaven sprouts. Adobe walls were sagging and parts of the interior were rotting away. Perea hopes to complete installation of a new floor and roof sometime before spring. “We would be very fortunate to have the electrical done and have a certificate of occupancy by next spring.
“We might even be able to have a Las Posada event in there this Christmas, even if we don’t have electrical service done by then.
“The first thing was to stabilize the building so that it didn’t fall down,” Perea said last month as restoration work resumed after starting about three years ago. “We’ve done a lot of cosmetic stuff and taken down all the interior walls, and taken off all the plaster that was about to fall.
“We had a look at the roof and found the beautiful original rough-cut lumber roof.”
Perea said he believes the lumber came from a mill in the Jemez Valley; he has ordered more for the replacement floor. “The idea is to make the restoration as much like the original as possible.”
That goes for the windows as well, although the original single-pane glass is being replaced with insulated glass. The project is being coordinated with an architect and other specialists through New Mexico MainStreet, and adobe restoration contractor Rick Catanach. “Right now we’re working on the front entrance, stabilizing and re-building that and putting a roof over that part. Then we’ll move to the back part of the house.”
He intends to use rough-cut lumber and mud plaster as much as possible to keep the old school house’s appearance like that of a structure built in the 1870s. “We will hide the electrical service because we’ll need that for modern-day uses, and we will furnish it with period pieces. We want to bring in an old potbellied stove. The idea is for it to be like a living museum.”
Inside will be a large room —the old classroom— flanked by two small rooms on the south side. One will be a meeting space and the other an office.
Corrales oldtimers used to tell of bringing chunks of coal inside the school house to burn in the stove that warmed the classroom.
Once the restoration is finished, Perea anticipates that groups like the Corrales Veterans of Foreign Wars post will meet in what used to be the classroom, along with the Tractor Club, the Kiwanis Club and others.
A future site development plan may show a common patio area between the old school and the restaurant.
Perea said the shed, or barn, at the rear of the property will be converted into restrooms and perhaps a bodega and coffee shop. “Back in the 1870s that was where the outhouse used to be, so maybe we should put up an old-fashioned outhouse door to the restrooms.”