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The Garcia Street Club was founded in 1945 in a rambling adobe house built on El Camino Real (later named Garcia Street), which was then a dirt road on the east side of Santa Fe, NM. It was sponsored and activated by a group of civic-minded individuals (later known as The Neighborhood Association, Inc.) who saw the need for providing a more wholesome place for children's activities. They wished to establish an institution that would not only teach children the virtues of proper community living, but also become a meeting place for the entire neighborhood — a center of social activities such as plays, dances, parties and all types of cooperative community gatherings. It was also anticipated that the Club would teach the individual child to cherish and appreciate his heritage and that of others, thus establishing a constructive sense of fair play. The prevalent attitude instilled in the students of The Garcia Street Club was "learning by doing."

In the early years of the school, students were trained in leather or woodworking projects such as making leather purses, knife sheaths, picture frames, carved chests and book covers. There was also a club theatre where students produced plays and performed traditional dances of New Mexico. Students were also taught cooking, sewing, knitting and painting and were offered supervised time on the club's large, well-equipped playground. By the 1950's courses were also offered in tin working, folk art, folk dancing, clay modeling, wood carving, silk screening and Spanish. The Garcia Street Club also began offering a preschool program that initially focused on teaching young children English and pre-reading skills and this eventually became the focus of their program.