Local History
'Working to preserve the rich heritage of the Temecula Valley'
History of Old Temecula's Schools
Written by Malcolm Barnett
The Temecula Union School
Photo Courtesy of the Friedemann Family

    When the Temecula Valley's first public school started, it is not known. San Diego County records say that in 1873 nine boys and two girls were enrolled in a school here and that the average daily attendance was seven. The teacher was paid $80.00 a month, board included. Louis Wolf was Temecula School District clerk. The school here, according to county records, was the only school in San Diego County with sufficient funds to keep school open eight months of the year. While the school was operated by Temecula School District, it was popularly known as Little Temecula School because it was on the Little Temecula grant.

    This was during the time when the Second Temecula was well established at the Pauba Ranch Headquarters, and the school house was located on Magee Road, now known as Loma Linda Road, and close to the eastern base of the hill where the Wolf Tomb was later built.


    Around 1888 a separate school district was created to serve the new town site. Since the old (Little) Temecula District was still in existence, the new district was named the Pujol School District. The first classes were held temporarily in the Welty's Hotel. It took two votes before a $3,000 bond act could be passed to build a school a little ways north of town, which opened in 1889. Mercedes Pujol donated the school site and the building sat out by itself, with a few eucalyptus trees planed around it and two privies out back.


    In 1914 two local school districts Pujol, and Santa Gertrudis joined forces to form the TEMECULA UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT. The Santa Gertrudis District was located between the Pujol and Murrieta Districts. It had been formed back in the 1880's and had apparently only operated intermittently. In 1914 there were just 12 students living in the district.

    The creation of the union district was to facilitate the construction of a new school. The voters of the district approved a $10,000 bond in August of 1914. In 1915 the new Temecula Union School opened with two classes of four grades each. There were eight 8th graduates in 1916

    (40 years later, the graduating class was still just eight students).

    The Temecula Union School was used for classes until June of 1968. This school burned down in 1971.

    When the Union School opened in 1915, the old Pujol School was acquired by the Temecula Samaritan Society. The Society moved it to Fourth Street, converted it into a church and began holding services and Sunday School there.


    Back on the Little Temecula Grant, Temecula School District in 1917 built a new schoolhouse between the old one and the base of the hill.

    Nida Ashman Thompson remembers it as having a porch with huge sliding doors.

    The old school building remained on the Little Temecula grant about two years after the new one was built. Then, in or about 1919 it was moved to a site on the south side of Main Street a few doors east of Front Street. There it served as a residence until it was razed in the 1970's.

    About 1938, because of low pupil population on the Little Temecula Grant, the schoolhouse built there in 1917 was moved to the Temecula Union School, giving the school 3 classrooms. For the 1st time in 65 yrs. Little Temecula was without a school. In 1971 the fire that destroyed the Temecula Union School, built in 1915, only the annexed room moved from the Little Temecula Grant remained undamaged after the fire.

    It was sold and again moved, this time to a location across Main Street from the old Temecula Hotel. There it served
as an antique store until 1979 when it too, was gutted by fire.


    One more school enters into the chronicle of Temecula Valley's educational facilities. It was not a public school, but an Indian School, on the Pechanga Reservation.

    The first Pechanga schoolhouse was built very soon after establishment of the reservation in 1885. It was of adobe
construction, and later replaced by a frame building, which was destroyed by fire in about 1891. It was replaced by a
larger school and had living quarters for the teacher. This 3rd school was destroyed by fire in 1894.

In summary:

Pechanga Reservation-------3 schools, one destroyed, two burned

Santa Gertrudis----------------1 school, torn down

Little Temecula---------------2 schools, one torn down, 1 burned down

Pujol School--------------------1 school, STILL STANDING

Temecula Union--------------1 school, burned down

(8 schools----1 remains)

    The Pujol School house, built in 1888 and moved to 4th Street in 1915, was converted to a church. Mrs. Freda Knott started working with the Sunday School in 1922 and continued to do so for over 50 years. (Known as Temecula Community Church)

    In 1986 the old building was moved again, this time, to 29852 Santiago Rd., where it stands today. Having had several names in the past, the Church has once again taken the name of TEMECULA COMMUNITY CHURCH. This occurred on March 17, 2002.