Fourth Ward School is centerpiece of historic celebration

VIRGINIA CITY - The Fourth Ward School will be the centerpiece for next weekend's Comstock Historic Preservation Week.

Mark Preiss, the school's executive director, said workers will rebuild the porch this weekend in preparation for the May 19-21 event.

"A simple little rebuild became a fairly substantial project," Preiss said. "We found photos from mid-1880s and the porch had changed over time. We are going to return it to the earliest known specification."

Reyman Brothers Construction of Reno is the contractor working on the porch. The lumber had to be specially milled in Redding, Calif.

It has been 14 years since the public first wandered in the 19th-century school.

Then there was just one room people could visit.

Now three of the school's four floors are accessible to the public and on May 20, architects will lead a hard-hat tour to places that the public has not been able to explore.

The changing gallery exhibit will give those who miss out on the hard-hat tour a chance to see those areas that have been closed off.

Called "The Art of Restoration," the exhibit shows 43 photographs taken by graduate students from the Savannah College of Art & Design during a tour last year.

"They worked with the staff and the architects to do a photo documentation of the entire building," he said. "They used a large format camera to take pictures of every room and every floor in the building. "

Of those photos, Preiss said school staff selected those photos that show parts of the school not often seen.

"We have incredible shots of these places," he said. "It's a way of telling the story of this building through photos."

Preiss said that during work on the windows, restorers found a piece that might have been original to the school.

"One of the window pieces was so damaged we had to replace it," he said. "Written on the top of it in black paint was Knight & Makay. They were the original contractors."

Preiss believes that the piece might have been the top piece of timber at the lumber mill, with the name of the contractor written on it so mill operators knew where to send it.

"We have some of the window hardware and some of the things we found during the restoration process," he said. "Even though the building has been open, it keeps revealing its stories to us. It hides them pretty tightly."

The school will host the Carol Morgan Page Silver Tea May 21 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., when Ron James will announce the annual state historic preservation awards.

If you go

Archaeological Awareness and Historic Preservation Week features several events designed to celebrate Nevada's history.

May 14-20: Dayton celebrates the life of John Orr and his role in the

history of Dayton. Come to the Dayton Historical Society Museum located at

Shady Lane and Logan Alley open from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. to find out more. Call

Laura Tennant of the Dayton Historical Society at (775) 246-0188.

May 19-21: Virginia City observes Comstock Historic Preservation Week.

May 20: The Nevada State Museum opens its new exhibit on the history of mining in the state, "Beyond Tonopah."

May 27: Chris Miller of the Bureau of Land Management will lead tours of Hidden Cave, departing from Fallon's Churchill County Museum at 9:30 a.m.

For a full schedule of events click on


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