Last summer, Silver City residents were grieving the loss of the 137-year-old schoolhouse that was used as a community center. Now, nearly a year later, they're ready to begin building a new one.
Less than a week after the July 7, fire, the town's 100 or so residents divided among several committees and set to work preparing to replace the historic school. They volunteered to help clean up debris, preserve and catalogue what was salvageable and prepare a report on how it was done.
Now, the lot is cleared, an architect has plans ready to present to Lyon County officials for their approval and volunteers are hoping for a December 2005 completion.
Ron Reno, a professor of anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno and a 20-year Silver City resident, has been involved with the project from the beginning and led the project's archaeology committee.
How is the rebuilding progressing?
For the rebuilding, we have the lot completely clean and ready for construction. We salvaged out all that we needed to salvage. Plans are in the final stages of being presented. Carol Gadda of Cathexes, is an historic architect and we are in the final stages of getting the plans ready. The county has already viewed a draft and we're at the point where we're about ready to build.
Will it look like it did before?
It will look very much like the old one. It's an active community center, so we've made changes to handle it that way. There are programs we do in the community center, so we have altered the building somewhat to take care of those programs better than it did before. Things like a good kitchen to handle the school and youth programs, more storage space, a larger, more flexible meeting space.
We did it so that when you look at the new building, you'll have to look hard to notice it looks different. We have been incorporating the same salvaged materials - a great deal of salvaged materials - from the old building to maintain the continuity.
What was involved in the rebuilding process?
We've done an archaeological dig that we finished on Memorial Day weekend, and information from it is being used to guide the rebuilding of the structure. We've been in continuous communication with the architect throughout.
As soon as the fire happened, about a week later there was the huge town meeting where the whole town got together to decide what to do. Almost everyone in town ended up being on committees to decide things like what the future uses were for the building. There were committees for interior and exterior design, a finance committee, an archaeological committee, and in making this work the entire town divvied up the effort and spent all last summer and fall preparing for the rebuilding.
When we hired the architect, we had very detailed plans to show what it would look like. The design project began right there.
When might it open?
We are still hoping to open up by December. We hope to make this building season.
Do you have a builder yet?
It will have to go out to bid.
How is the new building being financed?
Most costs will be covered by insurance, and if there's any part that insurance can't covered it should be handled by the county.
Do you need more help from volunteers?
Oh, yes, that goes in a couple different directions. While construction is going on we will have salvage materials that will have to be remilled and reshaped and we have volunteers online to do that.
There are also artifacts that have to be run through the lab, sorted and we have to produce reports on it as well. There's still lots of volunteer stuff to do.
Did you get cooperation from officials as well as residents?
Yes, great cooperation from Lyon County and (Comstock) Historic District Commission and State Preservation Office, people at the Nevada State Museum, the Nevada State Archives. We've had huge support all across the board.