Dudley School Project Seeking Volunteers and the Chihuahuita Revival
Converting the Dudley School: one of the oldest structures in Alamogordo, New Mexico; into a community center is a task a community of volunteers is taking on under the leadership of the Tularosa Basin Historic Society and the city of Alamogordo.
This project has been championed by the Tularosa Basin Historic Society among the nonprofit sector, and by District 5 Alamogordo City Commissioner, Sharon McDonald representing the government partnership.
McDonald was a student at Dudley, decades ago, during the transitional years from segregation. The Dudley School rehabilitation has a special meaning to her and as a shining light of community pride in the once proud Chihuahuita neighborhood. Her vision is that the Dudley rehabilitation “will inspire community pride and future investment into reestablishing the dignity and pride of this historically important neighborhood.”
The Dudley School rehabilitation is the first major historic preservation event in the historically Hispanic and African American “old town” portion of Alamogordo on the Chihuahuita side of 10th Street.
Chihuahuita was once prosperous and the earliest settlement, in the city proper, of Alamogordo. It failed to garner the investment of all other Alamogordo neighborhoods since its founding. Some early leaders considered it the barrio of Alamogordo, New Mexico, some political and business leaders still do. Due decades of neglect many houses and businesses continue to age and deteriorate without much effort to revitalize.
However through leadership change is in the air thus the Dudley School rehabilitation effort, is not only of historic importance, but also culturally important to the history, evolution and the story of Alamogordo, and the preservation of that historic storyline.
Pride and sense of hope is in the air and changing the plight of the neighborhood, with a renewed interest in Chihuahuita and renewed community pride. Sidewalks are finally being put into the neighborhood, 125 years since incorporation, into Alamogordo under Sharon McDonald’s leadership.
Musicians such as Nakewon Monreal with Gary Manzanares filmed a Music Video in the historic area of Chihuahuita in Alamogordo, to shine light on its almost forgotten history of some of the early Hispanic Settlers in Otero County. Community pride is on the rebound from those that have roots tied to community heritage of Chihuahuita.
Last weekend New York Avenue, finally the business district located at the edge of Chihuahuita, hosted a street party celebrating Hispanic culture with Hispanic music as the main feature by Explosion.
The evening block party was organized to celebrate the grand opening of Quelos, the restaurant located inside Picacho Brewing Company. Live music by Xplosion, dancing, the whole street was beer garden with businesses open late and all with a celebration of the beginning of a revival of Chihuahuita and local Hispanic Culture.
The Dudley School rehabilitation is a catalyst for the renewed pride, excitement and and focus on Chihuahuita.
The Dudley School, originally known as the Kansas School was a 4-room facility that segregated non-English speaking students from the general population and also hosted African American children until integration began in Alamogordo in the late 40s through 1951.
From that harsh history, is the evolution of a community center, a building to be proud of with a community room that will provide a history of the school and of early life in Chihuahuita, a new park (the second new park and playground in Chihuahuita in 4 years to a neighborhood that has no parks prior) and more.
The project is ongoing for the Dudley School and now again they need volunteers.
Per Joe Lewandowski, the project manager of the Dudley rehabilitation…
“Our break time is over, time to get back to work! We are scheduling workdays for the volunteers. We will be working next Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (Sept. 7, 8, & 9) starting at 7:30 AM and normally not going past noon on each day.
Work to be done will be:
- Litter, weed and brush cleaning up. Need to trim bushes near building to allow paint crew access.
- Painting the exterior. There are still repairs to be done to outside plaster, but there is a large portion that does not need repairs, so time to paint the plaster.
- Sanding, prepping and painting white on the trim, window frames, entry way and soffit. Not the windows units themselves that will be accomplished at another work session.
- If we have enough people, we would like to start back on the repairs and installation of the perimeter fencing.
We will have all the tools necessary to accomplish the work described. Just need bodies to operate those tools and paint brushes.
White Sands Construction has completed the new roof and the repair of the south wall. Drive by and check it out. Thanks, WSC, great working with you! General Hydronics is completing all the new plumbing. MGS Refrigeration has the majority of the HVAC systems in place. And Neil Stone Electric has got the electric power into the building, still needing to complete the install of interior outlets and switches.”
Pastor Johnnie L Walker published an Introspection on the AlamogordoTownNews.com site titled” Together We Can Do This.” In that introspection he stated, “We must recognize the essence of our unity lies in safeguarding the well-being of our children, for they are the torchbearers of our hopes and dreams. It is for them that we must cast aside our differences and rally together, drawing upon the strength of our shared purpose…Let us stand together and forge a path towards healing, unity, and progress. Let our passionate convictions be tempered by the understanding that we are all worthy of a brighter future. For in this pursuit, we not only shape the destiny of our community but also ensure that our children will inherit a world where hope thrives and dreams soar. Together we can do this!”
While Pastor Walkers message was tied to a larger audience it speaks volumes to the pride and unity and the coming together of the community of Chihuahuita.
From the walking the neighborhood daily and championing government and private investment from Commissioner Sharon McDonald, to shining the light to a new generation though music videos by Nakewon Monreal with Gary Manzanares, to investing in new businesses and hosting culturally diverse street parties like the leadership from Quelos, and Picacho Brewing Company, to the hard physical demands of Dudley Rehabilitation by Joe Lewandowski, to being reminded that “together we can do this” by Johnnie Walker; the pride of Chihuahuita in Alamogordo, New Mexico is on the rebound.
Join the positive conversation, volunteer at Dudley and let’s show how a diverse community working together can renew pride, inspire investment and pay tribute to a neighborhood of historical significance and importance to the history of Alamogordo.
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