Place

Blackwell School

plain house with two small windows on either side of the centered door. Steps lead up to the door
Blackwell School

Photograph by Gretel Enck and Bonnie Wilson, courtesy of Texas State Historic Preservation Office

Quick Facts
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2019, the Blackwell School in Marfa, Texas, was the sole public education institution for the city's Mexican and Mexican American children from 1909-1965. Like many states across the south, segregated education was a standard in 19th and early 20th century society. Segregation began in Marfa in 1892 following the completion of a new school for the city’s Anglo students. Unlike African Americans, there was no state law that mandated segregation between whites and Hispanic people. Mexican children attended the city’s original school building until 1909 when the district constructed a two-room adobe brick building on South Abbot Street. Although there was no state law that mandated separate schools for Hispanic students, Texas school districts perpetuated the practice of de facto segregation through the mid-twentieth century. Known originally as the Ward or Mexican School, Blackwell School was later named for its longtime principal Jesse Blackwell. As the student population grew, more buildings were constructed next to the 1909 schoolhouse. Blackwell School closed in 1965 following the integration of the Marfa Independent School District. The Blackwell School is a significant local example of the period when the practice of “separate but equal” dominated education and social systems in the United States.

Last updated: September 15, 2021