Mary S. Doten School (site)

The Mary S. Doten Elementary School was built in 1912. One of the four Mission-style schools known as the Four Spanish Sisters or the Spanish Quartet, Mary S. Doten was similar in style to Mount Rose School on Lander Street, which remains in use as a school. In addition to the distinctive Mission-style elements used by the architect George Ferris, such as the curved parapets and smooth stucco walls, Mary S. Doten and Mount Rose sported a pair of towers symmetrically placed behind the central courtyard. Instead of the towers, McKinley Park and Orvis Ring schools had decorative parapet walls on the roofs over the main entrances.

Mary S. Doten School served the students of northwest Reno for 60 years. The school was named for Mary S. Doten, a pioneer in Nevada education who had passed away in 1914. Doten began teaching in Reno in 1883, but before that, as a young woman, she had come to the Comstock boomtown of Virginia City from her home in Connecticut. There, she met the newspaperman Alf Doten, a friend of Mark Twain. Mary and Alf married in a romantic ceremony on a boat in Lake Tahoe in 1873.

The Dotens left Virginia City with five children in 1882 and the following year, Mary began teaching in Reno. Over the course of her career, she taught all subjects at all grade levels, although her specialty and favorite subject was English literature. In was in honor of her many contributions to education in Nevada that one of the Spanish Quartet was named after her.

By 1972, the school district was faced with maintaining a number of old school buildings, and the cost to renovate them all was exorbitant. The Four Spanish Sisters were targeted as candidates for demolition, and Mary S. Doten was the first to be removed. After closing in 1972, it was taken down in 1974. Orvis Ring was closed in 1975 and demolished a few years later. Only McKinley Park and Mount Rose managed to avoid the wrecking ball.

Images

Mary S. Doten School, 1912

Mary S. Doten School, 1912

The Mary S. Doten School was one of four Mission-style schools designed by architect George A. Ferris and built in Reno between 1909 and 1912. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Mary S. Doten

Mary S. Doten

Nevada education pioneer, Mary S. Doten, the school's namesake. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Doting on Mary Doten

Doting on Mary Doten

A sketch of Mary S. Doten as a revered high school teacher, published in The Comet, a Reno High School publication. Image courtesy of Nevada Historical Society View File Details Page

Mary S. Doten School

Mary S. Doten School

An early photo postcard of Mary S. Doten School. Upon its construction in 1912, many houses in the surrounding neighborhood still had corrals. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Mary S. Doten School, 1920s

Mary S. Doten School, 1920s

A postcard of the Mary S. Doten School in the 1920s demonstrates the great care taken with flowers and landscaping. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Seventh graders, ca. 1921

Seventh graders, ca. 1921

A seventh grade class at Mary S. Doten School, ca. 1921. Image courtesy of Special Collections, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries View File Details Page

Third graders, ca. 1946

Third graders, ca. 1946

A photo of teacher Ruth Conrad's third grade class at Mary S. Doten School in 1946 or 1947. Students identified in the front row are Nancy Edwards (fourth from left), Neal Cobb (fourth from right) and Jim McDonald (far right). Image courtesy of Neal Cobb View File Details Page

Street Address:

631 West 5th Street, Reno, NV [map]

Cite this Page:

Mella Harmon, “Mary S. Doten School (site),” Reno Historical, accessed August 16, 2017, http://renohistorical.org/items/show/25.

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