On September 11, 1935, the Grant County Board of Education submitted a WPA proposal to build a new school at Redrock, a farming hamlet on the Gila River, approximately 70 miles southwest of the county seat in Silver City.
The board had been busy the summer and into the fall, preparing similar project proposals for far-flung rural school districts.
Redrock, separated by a mountain from Silver City, was a remote, thinly populated area closer to Lordsburg (32 miles), the county seat of neighboring Hidalgo County.
The Board justified the need for a new school at Redrock, stating in the application that the existing school consisted of two separate buildings, which permitted “no cooperation between the teachers” (WPA OP-65-85-245).
“The two present rooms are a disgrace to the community,” and present a situation “not inductive [sic.] to childrens [sic.] happiness or the constructive teaching on the part of the teachers” (WPA OP-65-85-245).
The project resulted in a flat-roof, two-room adobe-built school after a plan prepared by the New Mexico WPA chief architect, Willard Krueger.
A second project in 1937 made landscaping improvements at the school.
These were the only WPA projects activated in this remote community.
The WPA played an important role in developing school infrastructure in New Mexico during the Great Depression. Prior to the New Deal, New Mexico’s more than 900 school districts relied primarily on property taxes to fund new school construction.
Given the state’s low tax base, especially in poor, rural areas, the monies provided by the PWA and WPA proved a boon to school construction.
According to one figure, by 1937 the WPA had financed 257 new school buildings, 54 playgrounds, 15 gymnasiums, and remodeled 56 schools (Nanninga, 1942: 111).
By the conclusion of the New Deal, 361 schools had been constructed with WPA funds, representing the seventh highest expenditure on schools in the United States during the Depression (Kammer, 1994: 53).
The village now consists of less than a dozen structures. Hidden mostly from the highway by thick stands of mesquite, it is hard to tell whether the school survives as one of these structures.
However, a characteristic flat-roof, Pueblo Revival style building can be glimpsed on a bluff overlooking the highway (http://goo.gl/qPDLFG).
Given its location, form and style, it is most likely the WPA school.
Kammer, David. The Historic and Architectural Resources of the New Deal in New Mexico. Multiple Property Documentation Form prepared for the Historic Preservation Division, 1994. Nanninga, Simon P. The New Mexico School System. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1942. WPA Official Project Files # 65-85-245 and 665-85-2-245 and 165-85-3511.
Project originally submitted by John Murphey on April 14, 2015.
We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.SUBMIT MORE INFORMATION OR PHOTOGRAPHS FOR THIS SITE