Faras' Historical History

The first school classes in Pirtleville were held in 1904 in a room of an abandoned saloon at 19 Grace Street, which also served as a community center.

Also that year, voters passed the Douglas school district's second bond issue. The noted El Paso architectural firm, Trost & Trost, drew up plans for Pirtleville School. It featured mission style architecture.

On Pirtleville's School's first day of classes in 1905, 109 children squeezed into two rooms, and undoubtedly overwhelmed the two teachers. Not surprisingly, the next bond issue Douglas voters approved included funding for an addition.

This school served Pirtleville for the next 26 years until a fire destroyed it November 22, 1931. Douglas Schools Superintendent Joe Carlson quickly made arrangements to maintain classes.

He rented rooms in Pirtleville and rounded up enough desks and other furniture so that first through fourth graders attended school in Pirtleville. Those in fifth through seventh grades walked to Fifteenth School and the Grammar School in Douglas.

This arrangement continued for four years during the worst of the Great Depression. Early in 1934, the school board had enough funds to hire Tucson architect Henry Jaasted to design a new Pirtleville School. Jaasted incorporated the old school's foundation as a cost-saving measure, and Douglas contractors Taylor & Powell used lumber from another school that was being dismantled.

The new Pirtleville School was built with bricks manufactured at Paul Lime quarry, west of Douglas. With offices, bathrooms and other features, the new school cost $18,062 - or $13 less than insurance settlement the school district received.

Pirtleville School was closely connected to the Faras sisters - Concepción "Connie" and Rosa "Rose". They each were Pirtleville teachers and principals for over 40 years.

They were the oldest females of 10 children born to Juan G. and Manuela Faras. Juan was a native of Guaymas, Sonora, but the Faras name strongly suggests his paternal family originated in Lebanon. Manuela also lived in Mexico, but stated her roots were in the Philippines.

Concepción and Rosa graduated from Douglas High School in 1911 and 1915 and from Tempe Normal School (now Arizona State University). Concepción began teaching in 1913 at Pirtleville, and participated in many Douglas community activities such as the Mexican Fraternal Lodge, Red Cross and American Legion Auxiliary.

When Rosa started teaching at Pirtleville n 1917, Concepción took teaching jobs in Nicaragua and southern Mexico. In 1925, Connie became Pirtleville School principal, and Rose settled into teaching second grade.

Although the Faras sisters never resided in Pirtleville, many people thought of them as part of that community. In the early 1950s, they began receiving recognition at events organized by Pirtleville residents.

In 1957, Connie retired from the Douglas school system, and then taught until 1961 at a Fort Huachuca school. Rose took over as Pirtleville principal and retired in 1961.

In 1970, the Douglas school board changed the name of Pirtleville School to Faras School. In 1985, ASU awarded the the sisters Medallions of Merit for Leadership in Public Education.

Rose traveled to Tempe alone to receive her medallion because Connie died July 17, 1979. Rose lived until September 20, 1989.

-Ms. Cindy Hayostek, District Historical Researcher


G. Genevieve Wiggins, "A History of the Douglas Public Schools 1901-1965", Douglas Unified School District, 1965.

"New Douglas Schools...", (March 19, 1905); "First Week...", (Sept. 17, 1905), Bisbee Review.

"Pirtleville School Building...", Douglas Dispatch (Aug. 4, 1935).

Faras family history, Borderland Chronicles, No. 36, Nos. 21-32.