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[graphic] Three Historic Nevada Cities Carson City, Reno, Virginia City A National Register of Historic Places Travel Itinerary
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[photo] Fourth Ward School
Photo by Terri McBride, Courtesy of Nevada State Historic Preservation Office
Fourth Ward School, a prominent landmark, sits at the southern entrance to Virginia City. It was built in 1876, in the "fourth ward" district in town, near the Gold Hill-Virginia City boundary. Architect S. M. Bennet designed the building and supervised the construction. Bennet based his design on a plan originally drawn by architect Theodore F. Ladue of Lincoln, Illinois, and published in A. J. Bicknell's Village Builder in 1872. Knight & McKay were the general contractors. Built in the Second Empire architectural style, the cost of the building was $100,000, in part financed by contributions from mining companies and businesses, later by individuals and school benefits. Fourth Ward was a combination grammar and high school, designed to accommodate 1,025 students. Innovations included a "modern" central heating system, water that was piped to all four floors and the latest Philadelphia style patented spring-loaded self-flushing toilets.

[photo] Fourth Ward School in 1940
Photo by Arthur Rothstein, Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection, LC-USF34-029666-D DLC

The school was continuously used until the last class graduated in 1936. It was closed when a new school, located across from St. Mary's church and constructed by the Works Progress Administration was completed. The building remained closed and unused for 50 years until a broad coalition of community and preservation groups came together to rehabilitate and reopen this architectural and historical treasure. Today the Fourth Ward School houses museum exhibits and interpretive displays showing the history of the Comstock. A Save America's Treasures grant and other funding from the National Park Service's Historic Preservation Fund have assisted in the restoration of this important building.

The Fourth Ward School is located at 537 South C St. in Virginia City. The museum is open everyday May-October, from 10:00am to 5:00pm. Call 775-847-0975 for further information.

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