Column: City was home to an Indian school that closed in 1960

Students at the Tucson Indian School, around 1901-1903. Photo from Tom Marshall's Tucson

The Street Smarts column shares the history of the defunct Tucson Indian School and the street that was named for it:
Tucson once had an Indian School and a street named after it — but both are gone.

On August 24, 1886, T.C. Kirkwood, superintendent of the Board of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church, petitioned the Tucson Common Council for a grant or extended lease on 15 acres of land just west of the university to build an industrial school for Native American boys. The council let a 99-year lease at $1 per year for an area of four blocks near the university. The Board of Home Missions then purchased 42 acres on the Santa Cruz River from Sam Hughes for its farms.

While the school was being built in early 1888, Mary Whitaker used a temporary site — the old adobe public school building on Congress Street — to teach about 10 pupils. Later that year, the school’s first permanent superintendent, Rev. Howard Billman, arrived and the school opened with 54 boys and girls.

The new boarding school was semireligious. Boys learned trades such as farming, blacksmithing, carpentry and tinning, while girls were taught sewing and similar skills.

Get the Story:
David Leighton: Street Smarts: Tucson Indian School taught hoeing, sewing (The Arizona Daily Star 2/10)

Join the Conversation