On May 2, Lochiel School alumni, volunteers, and admirers of local history gathered to celebrate the completion of the schoolhouse restoration.
Some 250 attendees enjoyed music, food and lively conversation over the course of the afternoon. The alumni in attendance enjoyed seeing old friends and sharing their memories.
The Lochiel School is located in the south end of the San Rafael Valley. Its history traces back to the Tohono O’odham, who lived and hunted in the area before the first North American settlers came from California in 1880. The De La Ossa family, among the first settlers, and their descendants, named the town La Noria, which means “The Spring.” Later, the Cameron brothers, who migrated from Scotland and established themselves as prominent ranchers, renamed the town Lochiel, after the hometown they had left.
From the late 1800s until 1972, the one-room schoolhouse welcomed elementary students from local ranching and mining families.
The schoolhouse then sat empty until 2010, when the Patagonia Museum arranged with the Patagonia School District to begin a renovation on the building.
Inspired by his mother, alumna Elena Quiroga, to pursue the project, German Quiroga, President of the Patagonia Museum, was honored at the celebration.
The crowd toured the schoolhouse and the teacherage, now restored to serve as an open-air visitors’ center. Colorful murals, painted by local students and volunteers depict the history of the region.
Three musical acts performed, representing the three cultures who made their home here throughout history. Gertie & The T. O. Boyz played Waila music to honor the ancestral lands of the Tohono O’odham people. Mariachi Penumbra, from Nogales, represented the years of settlement when the town was still a part of Mexico. Bagpiper William Don Carlos gave a nod to the early European settlers.