In early December, the roof was being replaced on the old, one-room schoolhouse at the corner of Corrales Road and Rincon Road. The earthen structure is being restored by John Perea who also owns the adjacent Perea’s Restaurant and Tijuana Bar. Both historic buildings are to be managed in accordance with a common site development plan. Restoration of the old schoolhouse where Corrales kids were taught from the 1870s until 1925 is to be complete before next summer.
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. In October, Perea said he hoped tohave a new roof and new floor before spring. “We would be very fortunate to have the electrical done and have a certificate of occupancy by next spring,” he said.
“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 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.
“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.
He intends to use rough-cut lumber and mud plaster as much as possible to keep the old schoolhouse’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 schoolhouse to burn in the stove that warmed the classroom. 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.”