The Calkins School, built by Peter Baxstrom, opened for students at the start of the school year in 1909, offering classes from elementary through high school. Originally, the building had six classrooms until 1924 when they added six more, and then six additional rooms in 1935, bringing the total to 18. Today, the Housing Authority of the County of Montezuma is on the path to converting those classrooms into spacious, affordable housing units for residents of Cortez.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2016, the Calkins School will soon be significant not just for its history, but also as an example of how "old buildings" can provide new solutions—in this case, by conversion into affordable housing apartments. Once the school is rehabilitated, space will be set aside to display historical photographs and artifacts to educate both residents and visitors alike about the building’s history.
The multi-phased preservation of the Calkins School Building continued in early 2018 with the help of a History Colorado State Historical Fund grant for $190,042. The grant is funding the repair and in-kind replacement of 92 historic windows and the repair of 20 doors and transoms. This project shows how historic preservation can help keep the character of a place intact while providing new opportunities for community development.