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
Fourth Ward School
Photo by Terri McBride,
Courtesy of Nevada State Historic Preservation Office
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.
Fourth Ward School in 1940
Photo by Arthur Rothstein, Courtesy of Library of Congress,
Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection, LC-USF34-029666-D
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.