On Toltec Road between Interstate 10 and Jimmie Kerr/Frontier Blvds. on the east side of the road just south of the railroad tracks sits a building with significant historical value to the community. Eligible for the National Historic Registry, the old Toltec Elementary School is currently being restored by the Santa Cruz Valley Historic Museum.
The historic mission-style building was completed in 1930 on lands donated by the Shedd family, and it was used as a classroom in the Toltec school district until 1956. From 1958 to 1966 it was used by the LDS Church. In 1966 the building was renovated and was used as a school again for the next 10 years. A jail cell was installed when the Pinal County sheriff’s office used the building as a substation from 1977 to 1984. The wooden building, just to the southeast and built in the late 1920s, is believed to be one of the last standing colored schools in Arizona. In 1951 desegregation was instituted in Arizona, and all the children were then taught together.
Comprised entirely of rural farming areas south and west of Eloy, the school district was never part of any city until the 1960s. From the beginning, area farmers employed many multi-cultural workers from all over the valley including the Tohono O’Odham Nation. Children living on the farms attended the old school.
The Museum acquired the school buildings in 2003 with the intent of restoring them so they can be used as a multi-purpose museum and visitor center where artifacts of the past can bring history to life for present and future generations. Successful fundraising efforts, material and financial support from the community and various grants have allowed the Museum to accomplish significant advances in this renovation process. The renovation of the colored school was completed in time for the Arizona state centennial in 2012 and was selected as a Legacy Project.
However, much more needs to be done. The Santa Cruz Valley Historic Museum’s annual fundraising dinner dance will be held at The Property in Casa Grande on Friday, November 4, 2016. The theme is “Fiesta Time” with live music by Acertijo Norteño. Both sponsors and contributors are sought to aid in the success of the event. With good food, good music and good fun, guests are encouraged to join in on the door prizes, raffle and both silent and live auction items. Tickets for the dinner dance are $50 each or two for $90 and can be purchased from members of the Museum Board. For more information about the Museum, the renovation efforts and this year’s event, contact Dick Myers at 421-0696 or visit http://scvhmuseum.org.