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Adobe schoolhouse with two narrow windows
Blackwell School National Historic Site
NPS Photo / David Larson

Blackwell School National Historic Site

From 1909 to 1965, Blackwell School was the sole public education institution for Hispanic students in Marfa, Texas.

Like many states across the south, segregated education was practiced in the 19th and early 20th century in Texas, though there was no state law that mandated separate schools for Hispanic students. Texas school districts perpetuated the practice of de facto segregation, with Hispanic students attending two-room adobe building now known as the Blackwell School. The school, named for longtime principal Jesse Blackwell, grew as more buildings were constructed next to the schoolhouse to accommodate a growing student population. Blackwell School, served hundreds of Hispanic children up to the ninth grade and closed in 1965 following the integration of the Marfa Independent School District.

Today, the site consists of the original 1909 adobe schoolhouse and a smaller 1927 classroom building, known as the Band Hall. Visitors the park can explore photographs, memorabilia, and interpretive panels that feature quotes and stories from students and teachers. The site is currently managed by the Blackwell School Alliance, a local nonprofit founded by alumni in 2006 for the purpose of preserving the school.