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Torres-Martinez Agency Headquarters - Cahuilla Indians - Thermal, CA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member thebeav69
N 33° 33.760 W 116° 09.226
11S E 578547 N 3713987
Quick Description: The Torres-Martinez Agency Headquarters is located just south of Thermal, CA and is part of the Torres-Martinez Indian Reservation, home of the Cahuilla Indians.
Location: California, United States
Date Posted: 10/21/2014 9:49:05 AM
Waymark Code: WMMPQZ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member zenpanda
Views: 1

Long Description:
Located just south of Thermal is the Torres-Martinez Agency Headquarters for the Torres-Martinez Indian Reservation and home to the Cahuilla Indians. Here at the agency office are four very historic buildings, three of which comprise the Martinez Historical District. These historic buildings include a former one-room schoolhouse, a private residence and the former agency office. There is also a small dwelling behind the three structures that isn't officially listed as part of the historical district. There is a protective fence that surrounds the perimeter of the buildings for safety and preservation reasons and visitors will need to be escorted by a security guard through the fence to see the structures up close. There is also an official Riverside County Historical Marker located in front of the buildings that reads:

COUNTY OF
RIVERSIDE
HISTORICAL MARKER
RIV-042

MARTINEZ INDIAN AGENCY

THREE STRUCTURES HERE - A SCHOOL, AGENCY BUILDING AND RESIDENCE, ARE BELIEVED TO BE THE OLDEST STANDING U.S. INDIAN AGENCY BUILDINGS IN CALIFORNIA. THEY WERE BUILT ABOUT 1907 BY THE MARTINEZ AGENCY, ESTABLISHED IN 1876. THE FIRST WRITTEN RECORD OF THE VILLAGE WAS MADE BY THE ROMERO - ESTUDILLO EXPEDITION OF 1823, TELLING OF WELL DEVELOPED AGRICULTURE. THE BRADSHAW ROAD WAS BUILT THROUGH HERE IN 1862.

One of these historic structures, the one-room schoolhouse, was totally remodeled a couple of years ago and looks like a brand new building. The hopeful goal for the Historical District is to obtain additional grants and private funding to renovate the other two buildings to their former glory.

I also located a nice placard within the Agency office and it reads:

Rehabilitation of the
Martinez Historical District Indian Agency Buildings

THE SETTING TODAY
Three clapboard buildings stand side-by-side along a desert road between Mecca and Valerie Jean in Coachella Valley. They face northeast, and in the morning sun they are shaded by the long shadows of old palm and eucalyptus trees. The largest of the three, a rectangular, one-story structure with a quaint bell tower over its entry vestibule, is the image of a Norman Rockwell country schoolhouse. The building's folk-Victorian style has been given the classical touch of cornice return on the gable ends by a forgotten architect. Its most recent paint job, probably dating to the early 1970s, was once white, but has weathered to a forlorn patchwork of peeling chips and bare boards. (*UPDATE* This schoolhouse has since been totally renovated and repainted to a brand new look) A few feet away, a tiny cottage stands empty, its windows boarded up, the lath of its gable-on-hip roof exposed where shingles have fallen off. The cottage has a front porch supported by lathe-turned wood columns, but their folk-Victorian jigsaw-cut brackets are broken and the porch floor looks too fragile to walk on. A short distance beyond the cottage is a small office building with a false front hiding its pitched roof. The facade, which overlooks a small porch with lathe-turned wood columns, bears the sign "Martinez Indian School & Agency." Clapboards are broken off the walls and the porch is missing all its floor boards. The window from which early 20th century Indian agents looked over the Torres-Martinez Reservation is covered with plywood. It is difficult to believe that these buildings, in such desperate disrepair that yellow safety tape has been placed around them, are the oldest remaining Indian agency structures in California and the primary feature of the National Register of Historic Places (NHRP)-listed Martinez Historical District.

CONSTRUCTION OF THE AGENCY BUILDINGS
In early 1906, L.A. Wright, Indian agent and the principle representative of Indian affairs for Riverside County, began a correspondence with his supervisor concerning the construction of a school at Martinez (King 1972). Wright asked the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to help expedite the establishment of the school for local Cahuilla children who were having difficulty traveling the rough dirt road to classes in Thermal, eight miles away. Most of the Indian children were not attending school, and the only available building at Martinez, a small adobes, was inadequate. At Wright's urging, the Commissioner convinced the Secretary of the Interior that the new building was necessary, and on December 3, 1906, funding was authorized for the school building as well as the small cottage, to be used as a teacher's or agent's residence. Construction of the two buildings was finished on August 12, 1907 (Jennings 1970).

The third building, the agency office, completed the group. Agent Wright's letters do not mention this structure (Jennings 1970; King 1972), but its size, architectural style, and construction materials suggest that it is from the same period as the other two buildings. However, since the Indian Agency at Martinez served not only the Martinez Reservation, but the Augustine, Cabazon, and Torres Reservations, all established in 1876, the Martinez agency office may have been built before the other two buildings (Quinn n.d.).


There is also a very historic Indian cemetery located south of the Agency headquarters and I inquired about visiting it but the security guard said that it is a private cemetery and off-limits to the public. Visitors here cannot help but appreciate the history that has been preserved and the goal is the hopefully rehabilitate the other two historical structures located behind the fence.

Type of Nation Within: Native American Indian Reservation (USA)

Tribe or Band: Cahuilla Indians

Address of Main Entrance to area:
Off SR 86 , Torres-Martinez Indian Reservation
Thermal, CA USA


Land Area - Specify Acres or Miles: 24,024 acres

Population: 42 (of 217 enrolled in the tribe)

Date when area was established or set aside: 1/1/1876

Open or Closed to Public: Open To Public

Website for further information: [Web Link]

Coordinates of site within area to visit: N 33° 33.760 W 116° 09.225

Visit Instructions:
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