Reno’s longtime superintendent of schools, Benson Dillon Billinghurst, built this lovely bungalow around 1910. It sat across the street from the Orvis Ring Grammar School, one of four Mission-style schools built between 1909 and 1912 that reflected Billinghurst’s interest in that architectural style.
B. D. Billinghurst played a significant role in the educational history of Reno and the state of Nevada. From 1908 until his death in December of 1935, Billinghurst served as the superintendent of the Reno School District. His name and influence are associated with many reforms and innovations in education. He was the first educator in the state to introduce the junior high school concept, and under his administration five such schools were built and put into operation. He was also a leader and an innovator in industrial, home, and commercial education in the state's schools. He was associated with the establishment of the State Textbook Commission, the passage of a law providing free textbooks for school children, compulsory attendance laws, laws requiring medical examination of school children, and laws dealing with better ways to finance education. He was also involved in raising the educational qualifications of Nevada teachers and in curriculum reform. For many years he lectured at the University of Nevada’s School of Education.
Superintendent Billinghurst was often consulted by educators from all over the state, and by legislators and governors on a wide range of educational matters. His good relations with students, parents, teachers, community leaders and political decision-makers smoothed the way for many reforms. In 1933, the U.S. Department of Education rated Nevada's schools as second only to those of New York in quality and educational standards. This honor was widely attributed to B. D. Billinghurst's work, vision and qualities of leadership.
After his death, a fitting tribute was paid to him by E. O. Vaughn, the principal of Reno High School, who said, "The educational system of Reno as conceived by Mr. Billinghurst meant more than fine school buildings; more than a place where boys and girls would go day after day for their lessons; more than a place for the employment of a hundred teachers, and certainly more than a show place for the town. It meant to Mr. Billinghurst a place for the full and complete growth of all the boys and all the girls of all the people."