Vado schoolhouse listed on National Register of Historic Places

Vado schoolhouse added to the National Register of Historic Places.

It's an unassuming red-brick building that was built in 1926 and it's located on a quiet street corner in the small town of Vado, New Mexico. The building might otherwise go unnoticed but this former schoolhouse was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places. And for a very specific reason.

“The school was built because of the black population that was here and the Gadsden school district decided to build a school for us here instead of trying to integrate us to the other schools that already existed," said Bobbie Fuller Boyer, who was a student here when this place was called Dunbar Elementary, a segregated school for black students.

The school was built during an era when black students were not allowed to attend the same schools as white students. For 30 years, Dunbar Elementary served as a four-classroom schoolhouse for black students in the Gadsden School District.

“I tell everyone that it was quite a feat because we had a principal from my time, she was very interested in seeing that we got educated and our parents were interested in seeing that we got educated,” said Boyer.

Boyer attended this school from 1945 to 1954, the year that segregation came to an end as a result of the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court Decision. The former school is now home to a Head Start program and it’s directly across the street from Vado Elementary.

“And they all over here and they are amazed because they don’t know anything about the history, you know, their parents are newcomers and we have a blast every year in April with the kids,” said Boyer.

Over the years, the school has evolved into a community center, a place where people come together for celebratory reasons.

“Wedding receptions, quinceañeras, any church functions, the building has been used for a lot of things,” said Boyer.

And so the irony is not lost on anyone, that a building that was once built to keep people apart has, for all these years, kept a community together.

“It’s something that we all should remember. It’s something that kids and grandkids should remember what happened to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Espy Holguin, a member of the Vado Historical Society.

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