Creating a beautiful space to reflect our wonderful valley!
We will restore the St. Anthony school building to honor our history, preserve our legacy, and embrace the future. Restoring and preserving the historic building will create a gathering place that unites and serves the Peñasco area through its history, culture and traditions, and will empower the community.
Our initial goal is to complete the restoration and preservation of the existing St. Anthony parochial school building in three phases to be completed no later than the fall of 2025, the 100th anniversary of the opening of the building as the first public school in Penasco.
Phase 1: We will seek funding to accomplish phases two and three.
a) Development of an architectural restoration plan,
b) Obtain necessary permits,
c) Procure contracts with builders and specialty trades.
Phase 3: Restoration of the school building.
Phases 1 has already commenced; The architectural component of Phase 2 is also in the works.
Assess the structural integrity of the building and develop a plan for restoration.
Restore the building to its original state, which includes removing the pitched roof and rebuilding adobe buttresses.
Complete structural repairs on the building’s exterior.
Upgrade electrical, mechanical, sewer and insulation systems functionality.
Restoration of the building including repairs of windows, refinishing floors and mud-plaster of interior and exterior walls.
We have a 10-year plan to ensure self-sustaining facilities and operations. During the restoration phase, local contractors will be the primary restorers, and will employ local construction talent. People from the community will be hired to operate the facility, some permanently and others on an as-needed basis. Given its location in the center of Penasco and along the “High Road to Taos Scenic Byway”, the restored building will provide local artisans, writers, musicians, and others a prime location to display and sell their products to the local community and to visiting tourists. The High Road to Taos Art Tour is an annual event that is highly advertised and extremely popular with tourists to northern New Mexico.
After restoration is complete and the building is operational, we will seek funding to build the "Hot Lunch," a building representing the historic cafeteria that existed when the school was active. The new "Hot Lunch" building will be a restaurant and will also provide subsidized meals to the needy of the community. The new structure will also operate a marketplace that sells local artwork, gifts and crafts. Sales will sustain the facility and provide economic opportunities for entrepreneurship. Use of the restored school as envisioned above will create opportunities to mentor students on aspects of business, including customer service, marketing and accounting.
With time, St. Anthony will be a center for economic development in the community and a center of educational opportunity. Eventually, it will be a resource for information on local service providers (such as caterers, plumbers, and carpenters) and serve as a work cooperative, where sharing skills is encouraged and supported. We will work with community organizations needing space to provide social services for low-income residents.
After restoration, we will create a museum to curate historical artifacts that tell the history of the Peñasco valley. It will honor the strength and resilience of the community. It will present the history of St. Anthony’s school through a display of historical records from the archives of the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids, MI. Photographs of the area by noted photographers such as John Collier, Jr. (Mr. Collier was commissioned in the1940s by the Farm Security Administration, a New Deal agency, to take pictures of areas such as the Peñasco valley) will be exhibited. The museum will include a history and the current role of the acequias (irrigation systems), and will honor local veterans, artists, writers, and musicians, (e.g., Cipriano Vigil, a nationally recognized local treasure). It will also house a collection of books written by local authors and local artwork and photos will be used for permanent and rotating exhibits. Additionally, it will serve as an archival center for the history of Peñasco valley families and their stories. We plan regular cultural events such as demonstrations of traditional skills and crafts, in the vein of Celebración de Culturas, an annual event that show-cases local traditions. In the tradition of the Catholic history of the school, there will be a space for prayer and meditation.
As the restoration of the historic building will take time, we plan to have the restoration process be a focal point of education in the community. We will record every step of the restoration, highlighting traditional methods used. Special community days will be set up to have the artisans showcase their skills for community members, including young people.
The museum will be a resource for education as it will be used for talks, lectures, and demonstrations. Students will be exposed to, and learn skills of research, writing, and documenting their own histories through use of newer technologies. Eventually, we will offer internships and apprenticeships to youth in the community and facilitate partnerships between youth and their elders. For example, youth can help elderes with technology support, and elders can share their knowledge of caring for the land and water. Education will include practical skills such as how to run a small business. Summer educational programs will be offered to the youth in the community. Adult education will allow adults to learn new skills - everything from adobe making, to cooking traditional foods and career training.
The St. Anthony’s property can be a model for inspiration from the past to inspire the future. We will showcase past practices from the community such as use of wood stoves, adobe structures, acequia systems, and home-grown food as important, affordable, and sustainable practices to be continued. The grounds will be improved for use as a community park, recreation and event center. Adobe buildings in the Peñasco valley are valued by the community, but many are in a state of disrepair. The restoration of the parochial school will educate community members in restoration practices of adobe and inspire restoration of adobe homes in the valley.