The concert hall at Piper's Opera House has a new coat of paint on its wainscoting, after more than 30 University of Nevada, Reno students had a great time painting it.
The group, Circle K of UNR, a youth service group affiliated with Kiwanis International, began its visit to the Comstock on Sunday with a scavenger hunt.
They then spent about two hours painting the wainscoting, then held a meeting to induct new members, followed by a party with raffles in which the members won souvenirs from Virginia City stores, including fudge and saloon tokens, which most were too young to use.
Dick Stoll, executive director of Piper's, said the wainscoting was painted a white pine color, that is an oil-based primer. He said the look will be faux wood, same as the new painting in the lobby.
Stephanie Casino, a senior who organized the excursion and service day, said the group enjoyed helping to preserve a historic building for the future.
"We're really into future stuff, and even though this is Virginia City, not Reno, it's still Northern Nevada."
She said the group has 1,080 volunteer hours served this year.
The list for the group's photo scavenger hunt included finding the oldest tombstone in the Silver Terrace Cemeteries, the suicide table and other things in the historic mining town. The students took photos of what they found.
Alex Kieu, a freshman at UNR who was inducted into the Circle K at the Piper's meeting, said she found going through the cemetery fun, but creepy.
"It was kind of scary," she said.
She took a photo of the tombstone of Capt. Edward Storey, who was killed in the Paiute wars in June 1860, and after whom Storey County is named.
"I don't know if it was the oldest, but it was the biggest," she said. "It's been fun, just hanging out, painting and helping out."
Bill Beeson, artistic director at the opera house, said the work was only part of the benefit to Piper's.
"There is the obvious help of getting a lot of good, concentrated free labor," he said. "But then there's always the intangible benefit, which is the good will that is created between this organization and Piper's, and the connection of these young people with Piper's and this community."
He said most of the young people had never been to the opera house, but will probably return.
"Here's a historic building that still does fun things," he said.
• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at email@example.com or 881-7351.