The Old SchoolHouse is a historic landmark representing Azusa’s history.
Back on Oct. 13, the Old SchoolHouse was moved from its original resting place on North Angeleno Avenue to the Veterans Freedom Park on E. Foothill Boulevard. In order to move the historic landmark, it was placed atop wheels and transported after rush hour traffic.
The SchoolHouse was originally built in 1903 and was a kindergarten classroom for nonwhite students during the time of educational segregation. According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Azusa was given a $3 million grant by the state as a part of a budget project “to move, restore and curate the historic landmark and the surrounding area at what the city is planning on calling Azusa’s Historic Row.”
In the early 1900s, the SchoolHouse was used to separate Mexican students to instruct them in English and ‘Americanization’ courses. After California schools were mandated to integrate, it later became a voting place for people of Mexican descent.
Azusa historian Jeffrey Cornejo Jr. said when speaking with CBSLA, “It’s very interesting when you look back at the original records, when you see the two polling locations at the turn of the century. There was one for Americans at City Hall and one for the Mexicans at the kindergarten house.”
As well as having a historical significance, the SchoolHouse also has an architectural one; it is the last single room wooden framed schoolhouses in San Gabriel Valley. In the coming months, there are plans to restore it as a local historic landmark.
Azusa Mayor Robert Gonzales elaborated on the possible future plans for the SchoolHouse, saying, “I would like to see it become a showcase facility, as well as, a polling place. So folks can come and participate in democracy that we so dearly love,” according to CBSLA.
Mayor Gonzales also commented to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune that he would especially like to thank Senator Susan Rubio and Assemblymember Blanca Rubio, who aided in getting funding for the project.
The Old SchoolHouse, originally named The Riley School, was constructed to meet historic Azusa’s education needs between 1903 and 1910. The school was remodeled several times in 1919 and 1929, and after those renovations, the older wooden-frame schoolhouse began to be used for Mexican students of Azusa.
“This is in honor of those residents who have endured the segregation from the voting but also the educational process for the past hundred years,” Major Gonzales commented to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.