Lincoln School was an important early school complex on the 300 block between West Second and West Third Streets in La Junta. Built in three phases, the complex started in 1883 with a stone building, was enlarged in 1903–4 with a red brick addition, and received a Spanish Colonial annex in 1937 that was designed to fit into the local Latino community. After the school closed in the 1960s, the two older sections were demolished and the 1937 annex was converted to the Lincoln Square Professional Building.
Early History of Lincoln School
The first public school in La Junta started in 1879. The second was the original Lincoln School, built in 1883 on land donated by a Mr. Woodruff on the 300 block of West Second Street. A two-story building made of native stone, it was the first school in town not made of logs or adobe. In 1903–4 a red brick addition allowed the school to accommodate more students.
Lincoln School expanded again in 1936–37, when a gymnasium, auditorium, and library annex were built on the south side of the same block, facing West Third Street. At the time, the school’s neighborhood on the east side of downtown La Junta was heavily Latino. To make the new building feel like a part of the community, the annex’s architects, Walter DeMordaunt and John Gray, designed it in the Spanish Colonial style. The two-story brick building featured a red-tile roof and three round arches leading to an arcade entry. The brick exterior walls were originally painted white but later weathered to a warm light red. Every third brick stuck out from the walls to create interesting lighting effects and visual textures.
Inside, the entrance hall had a brick floor and brick walls. One archway led to the combined gymnasium and auditorium, which had a white maple floor and exposed-beam ceiling. Another archway from the entrance hall led to the library, which had an oak floor and eight tall west-facing windows. The light fixtures were inspired by Aztec designs. Throughout the building, artist Robert Wade—who had previously worked with Gray on Shove Memorial Chapel at Colorado College—decorated the walls with murals and other designs. Over the main entrance and the library entrance, he painted small murals featuring the bright blue color that promised protection in Hispanic Catholicism because of its association with the Virgin Mary. Inside the library, he painted a signed mural of a mother and her children on the north wall and Native American–inspired geometric designs on the ceiling.
Schoolchildren sang in Spanish at the building’s 1937 dedication. The annex served the community for nearly three decades. As enrollment continued to grow, its library was subdivided to serve as two classrooms. The school complex closed in the 1960s, when La Junta public schools were desegregated and consolidated. The Lincoln School complex sat vacant for years. Parts of the 1937 addition’s interior were vandalized, but the building’s brick walls, wood floors, and murals remained in mostly good condition.
In 1975 the Lincoln Square Company bought the entire block and tore down the school complex’s 1883 and 1903–4 buildings, leaving only the 1937 annex remaining. In 1978 the annex was listed on the National Register of Historic Places to help prevent its demolition. The Lincoln Square Company renovated it into the Lincoln Square Professional Building, which now houses offices for lawyers, doctors, dentists, and accountants.