Community steps up to grant Fourth Ward School’s Christmas wish |

Community steps up to grant Fourth Ward School’s Christmas wish

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer

VIRGINIA CITY – The Fourth Ward School Museum’s $50,000 Christmas wish came early this year, but it wasn’t Santa that brought the holiday cheer – it was the community.

The museum, housed in the Fourth Ward School building in Virginia City, has spent the last 11 months attempting to raise $50,000 by Dec. 31 as part of a challenge put forth by an alumni of the school. If the school raised the money by the end of the year, Bob Kendall would match the amount.

Kendall was the eighth-grade salutatorian in 1936, the year the school closed.

The museum launched a fundraising campaign called “Parties of the Year” in May. A series of parties were held throughout Northern Nevada to generate funds for the museum.

Despite those fundraisers and a $2,000 grant from the Foundation for Cultural affairs, the museum was more than $10,000 short in early December.

The Appeal wrote a story in its Dec. 6 issue about the school’s plight and less than 24 hours later, the challenge had been met.

“It took us one day after the story came out, all of it through private donations, most of them wanting to remain anonymous,” said Barbara Mackey, director of the school.

The money will go into the museum’s endowment fund, which is invested with the Community Foundation of Western Nevada. With the recent deposit, the endowment now sits at approximately $200,000.

The fund is used for maintenance of the school building, including painting, electrical and plumbing items.

Mackey said the museum will host the “Parties of the Year” fundraiser again next year, with proceeds going to a proposed archive and research center to be housed in the ground floor of the building.

The proposal includes taking two classrooms and converting one into a public viewing and research room. The other will become a research and storage room with a climate-controlled vault for the museum’s more than 4,000 books, 1,000 photos and 700 artifacts.

“We are hoping that having the climate-controlled vault will convince more people to part with their treasures from the Fourth Ward School and Virginia City,” Mackey said.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at or 881-1217.