Sharing stories, honoring memories, celebrating the rich Hispanic culture and history of Marfa.

© 2018 by The Blackwell School Alliance

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 HISTORY OF BLACKWELL SCHOOL 1909-1965

THE STORY

Education for local children in Marfa of Mexican descent dates from 1885 when the first school opened in Marfa for all children. A new elementary school was built for the Anglo children in 1892. Then in 1909 the School Board authorized money for a new school house for the Hispanic children, and this adobe building was constructed and opened. 

 

The school, named in 1940 for longtime principal Jesse Blackwell, served hundreds of Hispanic children up to ninth grade. Students were told to speak only English on campus; Spanish words written on slips of paper were buried on the grounds in a mock funeral ceremony. The school closed in 1965 with integration of Marfa Schools.

 

The building sat vacant until preservation efforts by the Blackwell School Alliance, formed in 2006. The one-story schoolhouse has a modified hip roof, front-gabled entry, and plastered 24-inch thick adobe walls on a stone foundation.

 

HOW THE MAKING OF A CLASSIC HOLLYWOOD 

MOVIE TRANSFORMED A SMALL TEXAS TOWN...

DID YOU KNOW?

The Blackwell School is a designated Texas Historic Landmark.

 

These are 

properties judged to be historically and architecturally significant in the state of Texas.

In addition, the Blackwell School Alliance is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization charged with preserving the Blackwell School. 

MARFA TODAY

POPULATION: 2121

38% OF POPULATION

LIVE BELOW POVERTY LEVEL

PRESIDIO COUNTY:

14TH POOREST COUNTY IN THE U.S.

Marfa is a small town in high desert of Far West Texas. It is surrounded by ranch land. It is about 1 mile wide and 1 mile deep. It is 60 miles north of the Mexican town of Ojinaga.

 

Today, Marfa is known as home to many non-profit arts foundations, including the Chinati and Judd Foundations. Because of this, a vibrant art community lives beside old ranching families, Mexican-American who've been here for generations, and families of the people who work for the Border Patrol.

This flag pole circle is of major significance to Blackwell School's history because it was here where "Mr. Spanish" was buried. A mock funeral ceremony lead by Ismael Tarango dressed as a clergy officiated the rites to then forbidden Spanish words.