Home SchoolIssue: Section:
" They picked out a lovely shade of blue, but when the paint was
delivered, there was 1 can of blue, & the rest was pink..."
The Old Pink Schoolhouse
It's hard to put into words the peacefulness of Northern New Mexico. The air is clean, the water is pure, and every sunrise & sunset is beautiful. Looking to the East, the Sangre De Cristo mountains are stunning, & to the West, just across the street, is Carson National Forest. Certainly there is an allure to the hustle & bustle of 6 million people in a major metropolitan area, but it just can't compare to the serenity of coffee on the front porch, enjoying a beautiful sunrise, or watching a storm roll in, or taking in the pristine landscape of a fresh snowfall. The joy of strolling around 12 acres of wild grasses, cactus, flowers & sage brush, with expansive 360* views is unbeatable.
The schoolhouse was built in the early 1930's by the WPA. The foundation was hand dug, & the walls are poured concrete. The boards used to make the forms were later used for the roof decking. It was originally designed as just a box, but the locals insisted that it look more "Neo Pueblo", so non-functional buttresses & fake vigas were added. The schoolhouse is 2 classrooms and a gym.
The "gym" is 23" x 75.5", and for basketball, the walls were out-of-bounds. The gym was only accessible through a 4 foot opening from the front hallway, where the spectators were relegated. (exterior doors to the gym were only added after the building was no longer a school). Moms would sit on either side of the hallway, each being able to see 1 hoop to keep score. Surprisingly, there are very few reports of broken windows...
Originally it had matching his & hers outhouses, but at some point plumbing & bathrooms were added inside. It was used as a school until 1969.
The Schoolhouse was the natural concrete gray until the late 50's, when the residents decided it should be painted. They picked out a lovely shade of blue, but when the paint was delivered, there was 1 can of blue, & the rest was pink...
In the 70's, the building was used as a wool mill. The hardwoods in the gym were taken out, the floor raised, & concrete poured for heavy machinery.
In 1987 the building was rented by Ken Nelson, an artist who had been living in Southern Mexico for 20 years, who lived here & ran it as The Old Pink Schoolhouse Gallery for 21 years. I believe it was Ken that expanded both bathrooms to add tubs, & added a full kitchen in each classroom, essentially creating 2 separate living spaces.
I had been coming out to Taos for about 20 years, lured by the ski mountain, then later spending more time here in the summers, fly fishing & motorcycle riding. It was at least 10 years ago that friends brought me out to the OPS to see the Gallery. I continued to stop by & gradually became friends with Ken, buying several pieces from him over the years. 3 years ago, when Ken mentioned the schoolhouse would be up for sale, it seemed like the time was right. In July 2009 I retired, & moving from the teeming Dallas area to a crossroads community of a coupla hundred people, and I couldn't be happier.