Restoration of the Old San Antonito Schoolhouse.
Featured in Mike Smith’s book, Towns of the Sandia Mountains, this building was an active school from 1920 through 1950. When Engelman Construction, formerly High Mountain Homes, purchased the property in 2006, it had fallen upon hard times. An old mobile home and 14 stripped vehicles littered the property, which was overrun with weeds and trash. The schoolhouse itself was suffering from years of neglect and decay. Understanding the historical importance of the old school, Engelman decided to renovate it rather than demolish it. The property was cleaned up. The vehicles were sent to Albuquerque to become scrap metal. The mobile home was taken by an employee to a lot in Moriarty and refurbished. Debris was removed from the schoolhouse and unstable sections added in later years were removed. Concrete footings reinforced with steel were poured under the existing walls to provide a solid foundation. Other concrete footings and a slab were poured for a new adjoining addition. Existing stone work was re-grouted, and with the guidance of master stonemason, Julian Chavez, the stone work for the addition was accomplished by using local stone to maintain the rustic façade and by repeating the massive corner buttresses that were on the original building. Inside the dirt floor had to be compacted, insulated with 2” of foam and 4” of crusher fines before radiant heating tubes were laid and 4” of concrete poured. A quarter-sawn oak plank floor was then installed. Foam insulation was sprayed into the ceiling and blown-in cellulose into the walls which were covered in plasterboard and then given a plaster finish that complimented the other exposed stone walls. A full bath, a half bath, and a small kitchen completed the interior. This project was a labor of love for Engelman and is a fine example of his skill in renovation despite seemingly impossible odds. Once finished, beautifully restored building housed the office for High Mountain Homes, but its charm seemed so perfect for an art gallery that Sharon Marks of Engelman Construction turned it into just that when she opened The Old Schoolhouse Gallery in September of 2009. Everyone is encouraged to stop by 12504 State Highway 14 N in Sandia Park and see this wonderful restoration as well as browse the local artists whose fine works are displayed there now.