Even before the dedication of the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1919, galvanizing the Mexican American community on Kansas City’s west side, the neighborhood’s children had a place for school – a one-story, $50-a-month, rented building with two large rooms flanking an archway at 21st and Mercier streets. The first teachers were two Catholic nuns, Sister Rose and Sister Cyril, who initially took students who spoke only Spanish. They devoted all their time to teaching English so, by the following year, the school could start a standard term.
Classes moved to the basement of the church and ultimately into a building on ground bought and donated by the Guadalupe Center’s devoted director, Dorothy Gallagher. Built for $35,000, the new school was dedicated in 1927. In the meantime, a night school was started for adults who wished to learn English. A sewing school opened on Saturday mornings for Mexican American girls, who made towels, aprons, bags, and other useful items.
Summer vacation school offered classes in sewing, rug weaving, clay modeling, woodworking and other practical arts, and music and folk dancing to older children. Younger ones did kindergarten work.
A kindergarten class.
Children seated for a meal at Guadalupe School. Proper nutrition was a key component of the Guadalupe Center’s overall health initiative.
Residents enrolled English classes at the Guadalupe Center. Adult education classes convened at the center three afternoons and three nights a week.
Participants in an adult education class in sewing at the Guadalupe Center. The Works Project Administration, referenced in the sign, was created by President Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression, and provided both vocational training and employment through community works projects.
Children in an area identified as a craft shop in a "cottage basement."
Students at Guadalupe School. Founded in 1915 and located beside what is now Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine, Our Lady of Guadalupe School today offers classes from kindergarten to sixth grade.
Native-attired residents in the Guadalupe Center’s "bookroom – 'where plans are made.'"