The Restoration of the Lochiel Schoolhouse
A celebration was held on April 2th, 2022 marking the end of a twelve-year-long restoration project. A brief history of how that milestone came about. The Lochiel Schoolhouse is located in Lochiel, Arizona, along the international border with Mexico. This location served as a port of entry until 1983 and was formerly known as La Noria. It was once a thriving community but since the late 20th century has declined to less than 10 people.
The Lochiel School District can be traced back to 1882 when it was known as the La Noria School District. The schoolhouse building was deeded to the school district in 1911 by Clotilde Carey who owned the homestead where the school building was located. This one-room adobe schoolhouse served the community until circa 1983 when the Lochiel School District was abandoned to the Patagonia Elementary School District. Shortly thereafter the school district offered the property for sale under the condition that the schoolhouse is maintained as a historic building. No offers were received at the time.
In January 2009, the Patagonia Elementary School District called for a special meeting on the Lochiel Schoolhouse after receiving strong recommendations from Maureen and Onofre De La Ossa to do so. Maureen and Onofre lived nearby at the San Antonio Ranch and both attended the school as students. Attending that meeting in January 2009 were Patagonia neighbors German Quiroga and Ralph Schmitt who decided after the meeting to organize a group to preserve and maintain the Lochiel Schoolhouse. Fortunately, there was an organization already established, The Patagonia Museum, whose mission was to preserve and collect the history and culture of eastern Santa Cruz County which included the San Rafael Valley where the schoolhouse is situated. Ralph and German joined The Patagonia Museum as officers in June of 2009 with the intent to preserve the Lochiel Schoolhouse.
The Lochiel Schoolhouse project began in September 2010 when the Patagonia Elementary School District leased the property to The Patagonia Museum. The rental agreement stipulates that the Museum maintain and insure the property as payment for the use of the schoolhouse property.
After signing the lease agreement with the Patagonia School District in September 2010, workdays were established on a monthly basis, usually the last Saturday of the month. Over 200 individuals would volunteer their time to do whatever was required at the time. Initially, there was a lot of cleanup of debris and broken windows.
Windows and doors were installed, stucco was patched, new wood flooring was installed and the work continues today to maintain this historic building for future generations.